This new collection brings together a selection of Val Mulkerns’ short fiction from three collections, Antiquities (André Deutsch, 1978), An Idle Woman, (Poolbeg Press, 1980) and A Friend of Don Juan (John Murray, 1988). The stories take us from the cell of a rebel prisoner in 1916 through hard times in Dublin of the 1930s, the changing world of Ireland in the 60s and 70s and finally the eponymous ‘Memory and Desire,‘ a quintessential tale of the 80s.
Irish author Colm Tóibín described the title story as “one of the finest short stories that has been published in Ireland for many years”. Sebastian Barry has described Val Mulkerns as “a masterly writer in the tradition of Seán Ó Faoláin” and Booker Prize winner Anne Enright has said about the collection: “When writing is this accurate, this good, it does not fade.”
In her Irish Times review of the work, Enright continued: "it is remarkable how these stories, published between 1978 and 1988, consistently point to things we pretended, in those days, not to know." The collection, often taking in characters largely ignored by Irish fiction writers, provides a keen and compelling glimpse of Irish society with prose that Sebastian Barry also called, “beautiful stories so composed they border on a very special Mulkernsian wildness.”