#21: The Sheep Breeders Dance, by Áine Greaney
About the Author
Born and brought up in The Neale, Co. Mayo, Áine Greaney moved to the United States in 1986. After living in upstate New York, where she completed a master’s in English, she now lives and writes in Newburyport, Mass., thirty miles north of Boston.
Her personal essays and short fiction have been published in various U.S. and Irish literary journals and magazines, including Books Ireland, Cyphers, The Fish Anthology, The Sunday Tribune, From the Heart of Ireland, Creative Nonfiction, and Irish Girls Are Back in Town. Her debut novel, The Big House was published (June 2003) by TownHouse, Dublin and Simon & Schuster, U.K. Her second novel, Dance Lessons, is seeking publication.
Her writing awards, recognition, and shortlists include the 2000 Frank O’Connor Short Fiction Award (grand prize winner), the Irish News, the Steinbeck Award, the Moore Literary and Historical, and the Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing.
She has taught creative writing at Emerson College in Boston, Governor Dummer Academy, The New Hampshire Writers’ Project, Irish Arts Week, and at the Festival of the Short Story, Cork City, Ireland. In September 2005, she served as writer-in-residence at Chester College of New England.
In addition to creative writing, Greaney operates a professional business, writing for healthcare, higher education, and other nonprofit organizations.
About the Chapbook
"The Flume Press chapbook series is a wonderful venue for any writer—and Áine Greaney's stories fit in tremendously well. Clean, precise, rhythmic and original, Greaney's prose manages to negotiate a wide space of injury, geography and joy. She keeps her finger on the pulse and recognizes that the universal is found in the heart of the local. Greaney's is a voice to look out for." —Colum McCann, author of Dancer, This Side of Brightness, and Fishing the Slow-Black River
From the Chapbook
From “A Loveless Match”
It’s the small things you hate a man for. She could tell any of them
this—the youngsters who phone in the radio or write to the Sunday
papers with their tales of woe about wandering husbands. She’s sure
she wouldn’t mind that—not that anyone in their right minds would
have him. No, it’s the small things, like his sweaty socks under the
range, false teeth on the back kitchen window, and now this morning,
a jam jar of his own, human dung in the fridge, ready and waiting to
be brought to the doctor in the town.
From the press beside the range she reaches for her baking box.
For years it’s been this square, tin box, with the colored pictures of
Christmas biscuits long faded. From the box she takes bread soda,
baking powder, salt, the bags of brown and white flower with the tops
folded down and held with a clothes peg. She takes a fistful of white
flour, and thinks how even if she lost her eyesight, she could still find
her way around and still make bread in this kitchen.
Of course, he’ll leave the doctor until the very last minute. He’ll
come tattering in from the fields, still smelling of tractor diesel and
musty hay, a quick look at the kitchen clock and then the car revving
up and off with him like the hammers of hell—and all without a
word to her. He can do nothing in time. The man’ll be late for his own
As she swirls the brown into the white flour, she knows he’ll say
nothing, not even after he comes home from the town, or when the
results of his tests come, as if a man keeps samples of his dung in the
fridge every day of the week, and as if she needs tests to tell her anything.
A woman has eyes in her head.
- "I admire the art, structure, and subtle approach to all the stories, and I was impressed by the stylistic and thematic resonance of the stories individually and with each other." —Paul Eggers, author of Saviors and How the Water Feels