Book Review: Curiously Compulsive

Amy Walsh tackles A Curious Impulse, the latest tome of UCD’s creative writing classesA Curious Impulse is an anthology written by the UCD creative writing class of 2009. A combination of short stories and poetry, the tome exceeds expectations and truly delights, with stories encompassing themes as diverse as unsettling infants and glorious shopping trips.Susan Stair’s story ‘Leaving Traces’ is a contemporary reflection on marriage. Intensely clever, this work provides the reader with an insight into the mundane intricacies of married life. Similarly, ‘The Dynamiters of Quebec’ by Colin Barrett is preoccupied with the dynamics of family life. Here the perspective of the young protagonist is manipulated brilliantly, with childish naïvety lending itself to the story and making for an insightful read.Anne Graham’s ‘Jesus Christ Pose’ is as abstract as it is engaging. Here, her manipulation of language becomes a work of art in itself, divulging fascinating imagery. This story is evidence of the quality and perspective that can be achieved with creative writing.‘To Hell with Poverty, Let’s Kill a Chicken’ is a notable addition to the book. As the title suggests, Anne Coughlan’s memoir, set in 1960’s Dublin, is intriguing and evocative, centred on a mother’s extravagance in borrowing one hundred pounds to take her daughters shopping. This is a glance at a different Irish society where money was scarce and treats were few and far between.Jamie O’Connell’s ‘Daisy’ explores bullying and isolation through the eyes of an infatuated teenager. The narrator provides a poignant portrait, which highlights the tragic consequences of social exclusion. On a somewhat similar note, ‘Tangled up in Blue’ by Mariad Whisker steals the show as a piece that proves accomplished literature can be achieved in ten pages. This story makes accessible the troubles in Northern Ireland, embodying compassion and humanity that is not quickly forgotten. A hallmark of exemplary story telling, this piece shines.The poetry contributed is thought provoking and challenging, engaging the reader on a personal note, and enticing them to read more from these gifted poets.A Curious Impulse is not so much a collection of work, as an exhibition of skill, by individuals who have mastered their craft. The resonant hum of raw talent is audible throughout; a must-read, you cannot fail to be inspired by this book. This anthology is a credit to the writers who contributed to it; as an exposure of creative endeavour, it is not to be missed.