Editor’s Pick: Skin, Paper, Stone
In an effort to further deepen the connection between The Galway Review and the ongoing tradition of great Irish literature, I will be reviewing new Irish published writing on a semi-regular basis. Those interested in having their book reviewed please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Laney Lenox
In Máire T. Robinson’s debut novel, Skin, Paper, Stone, Galway becomes a character, transcending its place as the setting and interacting intimately with characters, their daily lives and actions influenced directly by the city itself. The novel revolves around the lives of two Irish natives, Stevie and Kavanaugh. Stevie, a reluctant NUIG PhD student originally from Dublin and Kavanaugh, a struggling artist, fall in love and struggle to navigate a prolonged feeling of adolescence and the unshakeable feelings of doubt indicative of growing older and attempting to navigate adulthood.
Robinson completed her Masters in Writing at NUIG, something that is clearly evident in her detailed and precise description of Galway. The description is so relevant that as I sat outside reading near the Spanish Arch on a sunny day, and the characters in the book were doing the same, I was actually able to look up and see the exact scene described to me—of people drinking and reveling in the sun.
As someone living in Galway, I found its central place in the novel compelling. However, the novel’s true power comes from how profoundly it can be related to. Oftentimes I found myself reading a passage and thinking ‘I have felt exactly this way before.’ Robinson describes common human experience, such as heartbreak, doubts of self-worth, and the difficulty of actually feeling like an adult with an honesty and clarity that is, at times, striking. Well worth a read.