Thistledown Press / 6 February 2013

Dibidalen by Seán Virgo Published by Thistledown Press Review by Hannah Muhajarine $18.95 ISBN 978-1-927068-06-9 The stories found in this enchanting collection by Seán Virgo are almost fairytales, familiar and fascinatingly fresh at the same time. The collection starts simply, with “Before Ago”, a story that sounds like a poem or a song. Its rhythmic and repetitive phrases gave me the feeling I was listening to the story being told rather than reading it from a page. These opening tales are short and cryptic, full of symbolism and meaning. The characters are unnamed-‘a man’, ‘a stranger’ or ‘a priest’-and contain elements of folktales-three eggs found in a field, talking animals, dreams and transformations. As the stories progress, however, new ideas are introduced. A priest struggles to find the best way to live his faith, a soldier finds it difficult to return to his old life after the war. All the stories are neatly linked, some seeming to pick up where the last one left off. They build on each other, gradually gaining length and complexity, moving forward in time to a world more like our own. The last three stories-“Gramarye,” “The Likeness,” and “Dibidalen”-are the longest, making up most of…