Story Title: ‘What’s Eating Him?’ by Paul O’Reilly.
Collection/Anthology?: Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 4 (Bristol Review of Books)
Briefly: Earl doesn’t come from the town but it’s the second Sunday in a row that he’s visiting its diner. He’s not really going there for anything on the menu though. Rather he’s there so he can see the waitress Laura who he’s formed a sudden attraction to. And on this particular day he’s going to lay his cards on the table.
Afterthoughts: What struck me most about this story is how ‘small-town America’ it is, despite the author being an Irishman, who lives in County Wexford.
Whether O’Reilly has strong ties to America I don’t know, but I do know that he has written an enjoyable and convincing tale here. I would say that What’s Eating Him? feels more like an opening chapter to a novel rather than a standalone story, but this isn’t meant as a criticism. Rather, I’d like to see the characters, the setting and the plot of this story explored further, because it certainly has the potential to either be a novel or a collected work of interlinked stories. As a standalone though it certainly still works.
This story was read as part of a review of the Bristol Review of Books Anthology 4. If you want to find out more about this collection then I invite you to pop along to my forethoughts post for this title. I also encourage you to make a trip over to the publisher page for this title.