Counterparts, a short story from Joyce’s Dubliners

Counterparts,  short story by James Joyce.
This is the most depressing story and most despicable of characters in Dubliners. Farrington is an office clerk who is an angry man. Terribly angry at everyone and everything. His job is hateful and he is bullied by his boss. His friends fleece him for money that he pawns for his watch and his wife bullies him when he is sober and he bullies her when he is drunk.

We see the full of the city in this story, with Farrington going on an angry and pointless journey from work to pub to home. He realizes he is in a bad situation but has no solution to what he might do. He doesn’t even realize the extent of his problems are of his own making.
I hate reading the ending of this story, it is a violent and awful one. We can only imagine that the next day for Farrington nuns his family and friends and workmates will be the same. The theme of routine plays strongly in this story. An aggressive routine that most Dubliners go under, Joyce comments.
I’ve read a couple of reviews on the Belinda Mc Keon’s take on this story. I really do like her style and energy so I am looking forward to getting stuck into her version of this hideous tale.

Counterparts is a short story published in the collection, Dubliners by James Joyce.

A little cloud by John Kelly, a short story from Dubliners 100

A little cloud by John Kelly, a short story from Dubliners 100

This is a strange one to review. I really like John Kelly’s style and his humour. He writes very observational stuff and this strength helps cement this story as a worthy version of Joyce’s A little cloud.

The small thing, and it is a small thing is that Kelly takes Joyce’s story and simply changes certain details. He makes Gallaher into an author and Chandler’s daughter into a teenager and his wife into a deplorable person. These were clever adjustments as Joyce reflected on Dublin society and what a mess it was, especially the pitiful life of Chandler.

However, the story is copied and pasted, almost word for word in many areas and the story arc is totally copied. Again, Kelly was probably making a point in that Ireland hadn’t really changed that much and that Joyce’s universal vision of melancholy of the routine of life is still there and will remain there.

A good take.

A little cloud written by John Kelly is published in Dubliners 100 by Tramp Press

A little cloud, a short story by James Joyce

A little cloud, a short story by James Joyce

If any of the Dubliners’ stories could summarise the pain of human beings, A little cloud would be it, I think!


Little Chandler is, well, a little man and he bumps into an old friend, Gallaher. The two are in total contrast. Little Chandler has a wife and baby and steady job. Gallaher is a rich and party type animal of a journalist who has travelled everywhere, including Paris and London!

Little Chandler spends most of the story having very depressing thoughts intertwined with uplifting ones only to be brought back down to sudden and dark epiphanies. He dreams of being a poet. He feels he is trapped in the routine of life, like many of Dubliners’ characters. The story and his life go around in a boring circle. He wants what Gallaher has but is not prepared to do anything to get it.

A great story and great fun.

A little cloud is written by James Joyce and can be found in the short story collection of his called Dubliners.


The Boarding House, a short story by Oona Frawley-Dubliners 100

The Boarding House, a short story by Oona Frawley-Dubliners 100

There is a lot to like in this story but the one thing I don’t like( and it is a personal thing) is the use of the first-person “Oirish Mammy” voice that many authors use to sounds humorous or ironic or some other reason!


This story is narrated in three voices, which helps dilute that “Oirish” voice somewhat. We have the Mammy, the daughter and the son-in-law. The husband and wife live with the Mammy after the bust of the Irish economy. The husband, in his section, explains the reasons behind his addiction. The wife, in her section, tries to see why her husband is doing what he is doing and the Mammy’s section comes across somewhat not fresh. It is only in the last few pages, where the daughter narrates her sadness, upon stroking her very pregnant belly, that we hear the Mammy’s voice in a fresh way. Through muffled voices downstairs as she tries to speak to her son-in-law and save their marriage.

I was really moved by this story, a clever variation again on the Boarding House theme but more emotive and stirring. Oona sees more in human nature than Joyce does and shows her characters more empathy and understanding. I really liked it. Just lose the Mrs Doyle voice and nobody gets hurt!

Another of my favourites.

The Boarding House by Oona Frawley is published in Dubliners 100, Tramp Press.


The Boarding House, a short story by James Joyce

The Boarding House, a short story by James Joyce. Available in Dubliners.

Another favourite of mine, The Boarding House is great example of a story that will never age. A “Madam” runs a boarding house and utilises her daughter, Polly to help her “entertain” the men. We know what type of house the Madam is running! It is a seedy look at Dublin and a cynical look at the power in social classes and money in Ireland at the time. Very much brings me to thinking of the Madam in the “Love/Hate” series. Not much has changed!


Polly is to be set up with a wealthy clerk, marriage is to be arranged and Mr. Doran, the clerk must accept the deal that Madam is making. Mr. Doran is perplexed. However, he is as bad as Polly’s mother. Indeed, Polly is a deceptive woman too so the whole house is full of cunning thieves who will do anything to make money and get what they want. A good match.

“Dublin is such a small city, everyone knows everyone elses business” Still true today. Am looking forward to Orna Frawley’s take on The Boarding House in my next blog post!


Two Gallants by Evelyn Conlon-a short story from Dubliners 100

Two Gallants by Evelyn Conlon-a short story from Dubliners 100

The two gallants is probably one of my favourites of the Dubliners’ collection by Joyce. I love the setting, the characters and the historical meaning. Joyce himself lists this as the most important and his favourite of the 15 stories.


I would think that any author taking this on would do well to use their version as a commentary on the relationship Ireland has now within the political or social sphere of Europe. But, that might be too obvious.

Instead, Evelyn Conlon focused on the cyclical nature of the Dubliners and the two characters within Joyce’s wider work such as Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses.

If you read my last blog post, you might remember that this story is about two naughty, young lads  who spend their days conning maids out of money and probably sex. Joyce uses this theft as a symbol of where he felt Ireland stood in terms of their history and relationship with England.

Conlon steers it in a different direction. Her story is set at a Joyce conference. Clever stuff. She focuses on academics who steal their colleague’s writing. She is making the theme new and fresh yet keeping the original one. It is a challenge to read, compared to the original as it flits back and forth, in and out out of the city, conference and Joyce’s story. It also cleverly commits a theft in its own way, once from Joyce’s story and then from William Trevor’s story called “Two More Gallants”, which was a response or cover version to Joyce.

This not only reinforces the idea of theft and betrayal, the huge themes from the original Dubliners but it connects the story to the whole of the Dubliners’ collection, Ulysses and Finegan’s Wake as the two characters from the original story pop up in Ulysses.

As we know, Joyce’s Two Gallants sets the story in a circular map and route within Dublin city, the characters arriving back to where they came from  so credit must be given to Evelyn for being this inventive and respectful to the voice and intention of Joyce. I feel that even thought this wasn’t the most entertaining of the new Dubliners’ story that it stands up brilliantly as a homage to Joyce but making it fresher for a present day Dublin.

Two Gallants written by Evelyn Conlon can be found in the new Dubliners 100 collection published by Tramp Press.


Two Gallants-a short story by James Joyce

Two Gallants-a short story by James Joyce

The brilliant thing about the Dubliners, which you really should have read by now, is that the stories can stand alone or in the group they are placed in. The other cool thing is that you can read them as merely an entertaining, satirical look at Irish people or you can delve further and further down the rabbit hole of Joyce’s brain.

The two gentlemen in this story are messers. They like to fraud women and money from those women. Throughout the story, we get pockets of symbols of Ireland like the harp player or the green peas and the orange, ginger ale. But, let’s not stop there. The whole story is situated in the city of Dublin as the two gentlemen take a walk and start at Rutland Square, now Parnell Square and end up right back in the same place again. Yes, yes, you can see what Joyce is saying about these two men and Irish people and history in general i don’t need to point it out but don’t worry your head if you want to enjoy this entertaining story about two awfully horrid men who love a bit of full on with the women!

Lenehan and Corley are the two said gentlemen with Corley being the more active rogue type while Lenehen does some reflecting on the life he leads. Though, when he sits down to a meal of peas with vinegar(Ew), he does have an epiphany of sorts. He knows he is not where he should be, he feels disillusioned by what he does for a living and he craves a wife and children and proper job. But, this epiphany does not last for long. In fact, he forgets about it quickly. This is what I like about Joyce’s epiphanies in the short story. they often lead nowhere and cleverly the journey the men take also leads them right back to where they started. Which means, I’m off to re-read the story and think about betrayal between the two men and the link with Irish society at the time. I am also thinking about Ireland and what Joyce is saying about it and its relationship with England.

Next blog post, I will be looking at Evelyn Conlon’s take on the Two Gallants and I am hoping for a subtle commentary on where Ireland stands now in the world, Europe and how pointless some Irish peoples lives are in terms of materialism and disillusionment. Let’s hope!

The Two Gallants story can be read and devoured in Dubliners by James Joyce. Happy Bloomsday!

After the race by Andrew Fox, a short story from Dubliners 100

After the race by Andrew Fox, a short story from Dubliners 100

After really enjoying Donal Ryan’s take on Eveline, I didn’t think the next story could top it. But, Andrew Fox’s take on After the race is brilliant and clever.marathon



Andrew Fox is a short story writer I had never heard of, apologies to him if he is quite the well-known short story writer! According to his bio, he lives in New York City(Lucky duck) and writes drama for radio and is also releasing a new anthology of short stories from Penguin Ireland is forthcoming. Always exciting to hear new, Irish short story writers.

He brings a unique style and edge to the story. Joyce’s story is a bit poncey and reaks of Joyce’s time, something I found it hard to relate to or even care too much about. Andrew Fox changes the setting and moves it from Dublin to New York City. The car race becomes a marathon race and the rich gentlemen become rich, rich bankers.

The main character though remains Irish and this is where the story comes to life. Irish themes of isolation, debt, worries about money and the recession are brought to life in a new setting. It doesn’t matter that this story is set in New York.

The last scene in which James, the Irish character, takes the rich bankers on in a video game, a shooter game. All these touches bring the story up to date and actually increase the point of the original story. The last paragraph is wonderfully written, almost bettering Joyce’s “Daybreak” dialogue. /

Andrew Fox speaks to the reader in a fast-paced, movie like language and I thoroughly enjoyed this. My favourite so far.

After the Race is one of the fifteen short stories in the new Dubliners 100, published by Tramp Press. Drop back in next time to my blog where I will be looking at Joyce’s Two Gallants short story.

After the Race, a short story by James Joyce

After the Race is still one of my least favourite stories in the Dubliners collection by James Joyce. On an emotional level alone, I could not connect though it raises some very relevant questions for us now as Irish citizens in the state of Europe.

It is about an young Irish gentleman, Jimmy whose family has high pretensions for themselves and Jimmy. Jimmy’s father pushes him into situations where he will meet wealthy and intelligent people. He does meet such a man, a French man called Ségouin. Ségouin is super rich and has the lifestyle that Jimmy would love. It all ends on a pessimistic note, a realisation of sorts for the main character that he will never be the same as Ségouin.

Joyce is making a strong point about nationalism, Europe and its imperial grip. France and England are seen as the superpowers and Ireland is being placed right at the bottom of the grading.Joyce is angry at  the Irish, wealthy people who are not helping Ireland in its cause. They are only aiding Ireland remaining part of a colony, according to Joyce.Ireland has no real power though it likes to think it has. Jimmy is powerless as is Ireland and no amount of new money will cover that up. Like Jimmy, who takes part in a card game with Ségouin, Ireland can play but will not succeed like the super countries of the European empire.

Andrew Fox is given the difficult task of re imagining Ireland and its place in Europe now. Where is Ireland and its wealth? Are we any better off? Are we respected and equal now in Europe? Come back to my blog and I will be hopefully answering these questions while reviewing Andrew Fox’s take on After the Race.

After the Race is a short story from the Dubliners collection written by James Joyce.

Eveline, a short story by James Joyce

Evelyn, a short story by James Joyce

On a simple level, this story tells us about Eveline, a 19 year old lady who is trying to make a decision. To stay with her somewhat abusive father in Dublin or travel and move abroad with her sailor-boy beau, Frank to a lifetime of happiness. Her mother has died and so has her brother and she feels the guilt of being loyal to her father pulling her. The climax of the story again, like many of the stories in Dubliners, comes quickly. She makes her mind up but then changes it in the last paragraph. A really emotional and powerful story.

We get the themes of paralysis, Eveline is frozen in her thoughts and movements at the end of the story. We get that awful depressing theme of death. Her closest family members have died and she even imagines that Frank might kill her though we are given no other references to him being aggressive.

It can be read as a basic quest fable. As can the stories of Araby and The Encounter. Eveline dreams of moving to Argentina, to escape her abusive father and hold her mother’s memory true. It is an idealistic persuit, though. She builds up to it and nearly follows through but falls in the last part. In the end, her guilt and sense of duty to routine, her father and her home holds her back. We do not know if she goes ever.

Eveline, a short story is published in Dubliners by James Joyce.

Come back tomorrow to read my comparative analysis and review of Eveline by Donal Ryan. I am very excited about this one. Donal Ryan is new and I am hoping this quality will bring with it the thing I have been searching for in this new Dubliners 100 collection.