From Under Gogol's Nose

Published by Scotus Press, 2004.

Available online from Scotus Press www.scotuspress.com

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Paul Durcan once aptly described Jack Harte's stories as 'at once pure symbolism and pure realism'. This selection of stories demonstrates Harte's extraordinary versatility as he himself sets out to explore the possibilities of the form. In the prefatory section, his 'Storyman' rejects definition of the form, declaring, 'a short story is a short story. Let's see what it can do. Let's see what we can do with it. Let it sprout wings and fly. Let it veer deliriously from one extreme to another. Let it skim so close to the discursive essay that it almost, but not quite, becomes one. Let it veer so close to the poem that it is preserved from absorption only by its narrative soul.' The ensuing stories are written in the spirit of this declaration.

Read some of the reviews of From Under Gogol's Nose online:

From the reviews of From Under Gogol's Nose
    Harte is a genuine master, moving from tales that recall Aesop and La Fontaine to the Latin American surrealists. While asking us to “eat the fruit of the tree of imagination”, Harte demonstrates how the story may reach into the deepest fortresses of the human soul. Here is an Ancient Mariner taking the reader by the ear and leading him into strange territories where he suddenly recognises himself and is astounded. We are all called to be witnesses – to love, pain, the horrors of war, the failure of the imagination.
    There are stories here that are set to be classics, like ‘Murphy in the Underworld’, ‘Queen B’, and ‘A Message to Sparta’, and there are stories whose lyrical pitch and rhythm approach the condition of song, such as ‘Turfman’ and ‘Birds’. An essential collection for anyone still touched by the Irish short story.
      - Irish Independent
    Marvellous opening material on the state of the short story in prospect and retrospect …. Wonderful stuff.
      - Books Ireland
    Jack Harte has been delighting readers for a couple of decades with his unique brand of symbolism and mischief. His imagination is wild, but tethered in a taut diction to give it credibility. A story that begins with the words, “It came as a pleasant surprise to Murphy to find that he could leave Hades at all,” could be deemed to be sailing very close to wind, but he pulls it off.
      - Modern Woman
    Harte’s stories in their matter-of-fact referencing of the preternatural and supernatural, and in their blending of the fantastic and the mundane may be seen as affiliates of Magic Realism. However, Harte instinctively resists definition and its concomitant limitation. In an entirely entertaining and provocative prefatory piece, ‘The Storyman Interview’, Harte speaks of the straitjacket of Cork Realism on Irish story writing …. His use of language is inventive, and often startlingly illuminating of an individual character or situation.
      - Sunday Business Post
    If you do one thing this week - Ponder ‘Painter’, one of the short stories in the excellent collection, entitled ‘From Under Gogol’s Nose’, by Jack Harte, the inspirational founder of the Irish Writers’ Centre.
      - Sunday Independent
    In ‘Birds’, a unique adaptation of the myth of Mad Sweeney, Harte is at his most iconoclastic, investing the yarn with poetic form. Fearless artificer. Forever pushing the boundaries. In his blending of the magic of myth with realism he has fashioned a fiction that is truly magical. Sound plotting, cracking dialogue, and credible characterisations do the rest.
      - TUI News
    Each story is a powerful evocative voyage which forces the reader to contemplate his/her unique response.
      - Intouch
    Harte is an excellent storyteller. His stories are wonderfully varied. Deep emotion, wisdom, and irony, all feature strongly. ‘A Message to Sparta’ is as eloquent an expression of opposition to war as you’ll find. …. ‘Gelding’ opens with “You asked me whether sexuality is a bridge or a barrier between men and women.” The story that follows is truly shocking. This collection will make new converts to the genre.
      - Insight
    The form is so near the poem that it revitalises not only the prose form, but also the narrative poem format, indeed fusing the two until it could be either. The modern themes complement the ancient truths explored, thus enhancing the reader's enjoyment … In this work Harte explores the possibilities of the short story form with more confidence and more success than most living writers. It is still the hardest form to conquer, but Harte is clearly a master of it.
      - The Black Mountain Review
    In the introductory Preface section Harte teases out the short story form, stressing that he believes in the infinite possibility of the form. He expects the short story to challenge his imagination and to savour the sense of wonder with the tools that every good writer employs: subtlety of language, psychological insight, sharp characterization, novel plots, a sense of symbol, and a mystery that yields itself up to clearer definition only through exploration and effort. Harte sets himself a demanding headline but he achieves it with disarming ease.
      - Western People

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