It’s terrific to see Ryan O’Neill’s new book, The Weight of the Human Heart, on the shelves and in the digital world. This is an intelligent, layered, sharp, poignant and funny collection of stories. Inventive, too, but not to the detriment of the stories. The short story gets a bum rap in Australia, and sometimes it seems as if it’s second best … a training exercise for something longer. But O’Neill takes the short story seriously, on its own merits.
When I was fiction editor of Etchings, we published several of Ryan’s stories. I especially loved a weird but quite beautiful story called ‘Grieve’ (see Etchings 4: the art of conversation), which isn’t included here. But I’m quite excited to see that two other stories that Etchings published – ‘Collected Stories’ and ‘The Cockroach’ – open The Weight of a Human Heart. We knew Ryan was a ripper when we started having to ‘take a number’ to publish him.
Long live the short story!