I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Show Them a Good Time, Nicole Flattery

Show Them a Good Time, Nicole Flattery

Show Them a Good Time by Nicole Flattery, €12.95, 227 pp, ISBN: 978190653978 At seventy, after suffering several disappointments, the first being my mother, the second being me, my father died. One evening he gathered the family in his room and asked if anyone had any questions. No one did. The next day he died. These dark lines, which open one of Nicole Flattery’s stories are deadpan, humorous and cold; equally they could be said to be concise and honest. Either way this is the no-bullshit world her characters inhabit. There is no room here for the world’s prevarications and presumed values, which Flattery’s highly intelligent but consciously non-intellectual women have instinctively rejected. What’s left then is on the empty side, emotionally speaking; smart women navigating an uninteresting world. Their sangfroid, however, is so seductive that the reader tends to sympathise, or at least respond with appalled fascination to the lives which unfold in these compelling stories. Flattery’s women- and all her lead characters are women- manage to be engaging, hilarious and disturbing at the same time. Men, when they show up for their bit parts, are mostly idiots or innocents, straight guys to her Beckettian stand-ups. Flattery describes her world in lean, unaffected and controlled prose. It is her skill in finding a tone to capture the dystopian world of her imagination that makes this debut collection so remarkable and enjoyable. “Show Them a Good Time” is the story that gives the book its title. The main character is working -if you could call it work- in a garage which may or may not be open for business, a place where strange people sit to watch the Hamm- and-Clov-like characters go about their day. The story features a twenty seven year-old whose mother does not believe the job brings out the best in her. It seems she worked previously in the porn industry; men who call to the garage tell her she is not as hot in real life. Management is a bouncy round woman; she is the organiser of a rehabilitation scheme for those who have fallen through the cracks of the ordinary. Its purpose is to guide its clients towards the promised land of long-term employment. She will not succeed in this case. There is a mutual dependence between the main character and her fellow trainee, Kevin. But management disposes of the vulnerable Kevin. He “wasn’t panning out”,…

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