Old School by Dan O’Shea

Old School by Dan O'SheaIt’s very appropriate that Dan O’Shea’s first collection is called Old School, because Dan is definitely an old school kind of guy. You know, the kind of old school where the approach to life is that you shut up, nut up, and just get on with it.

And from boys on the cusp of manhood to hardened criminals on a mission to fathers willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to provide for their families to a tougher than nails septuagenarian granny, there’s a lot of old school attitude flying around in the fourteen stories that make up this take no prisoners collection.

Sometimes the ‘getting on with it’ is poignant and noble (“Shackleton’s Hootch,” “Exit Interview”), other times it’s nefarious (“Pink Cadillac,” “Thin Mints,” “Two Phones”), and still others it’s just downright necessary (“The Summer of Fishing,” “Absalom,” “Purl Two”). In every instance, however, it’s absolutely pitch-perfect.

For a man that claims he initially found the concept of writing a 1,000 word story impossible (“I’m pretty sure I’ve written sentences that long.”), O’Shea nevertheless proves himself to be a master of the genre, with not a single beat out of place or word wasted. The people in O’Shea’s Old School world are as blunt and brutal as O’Shea’s writing, doing exactly what is required of them with grim acceptance and without a second thought. The result is a collection of stories which demands to be paid attention to, stories whose visceral starkness resonate undeniable truths about the world. And even though that world is often ugly, O’Shea’s writing is always sublime.

Old School is available from Snubnose Press.

Dan has graciously allowed me to present an audio version of one of the stories from Old School for your listening pleasure. Please enjoy Dan’s lovely voice as he reads his story, “Exit Interview.” (NSFW)

Dan O’Shea is a Chicago-area crime writer represented by Stacia Decker at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. His novel Unto Caesar is currently being circulated to all the usual suspects. His short fiction has appeared in Crimefactory, the Discount Noir anthology, and Needle. You can find out more about Dan at his blog, Going Ballistic.

Also be sure to check out Dan’s guest blogs, “A Short Sale – Some Ruminations on Short Fiction” and “Throwing Shit into the Monkey House,” as well as my review of his book, The Gravity of Mammon.


  • […] s been known in crime fiction circles for quite some time, both for his own short story work (see, Old School1) as well as his amazing readings of other people s work (most notably, Steve Weddle2 s Oscar […]

  • sabrina ogden

    March 1, 2012 - 1:42 PM

    Exit Interview is perfect for work when you have headphones. Just sayin’! Excellent review, Elizabeth.

  • Dan O'Shea

    March 1, 2012 - 1:01 PM

    Thank you for the kind words. And, I guess when you consider the subject matter, Exit Interview is the ultimate not-safe-for-work story.


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