Pick of the Paperbacks; Modern Irish Short Stories, edited by Ben Forkner. New York: Penguin Books. $5 .95.
"Perhaps the only country that can be regarded as a custodian of unchanging human truth" is one of Anthony Burgess's descriptions for "the most fantastic country in the world," Ireland. Twentieth-century Ireland has had an abundance of the world's great short-story writers: Elizabeth Bowen, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, J. M. Synge, and a host of others all expressing their own perceptions of the lives of a strong and diversified people. The stories Ben Forkner has chosen for his collection bring to the reader a unique view of superstition and humor, as in the stone-breaker and the nailer in Yeats's "The Weaver's Grave," and in Uncle Sinclair of "Poisson d'Avril." The book is a valuable resource not only because it contains 26 great short stories but it is also a fine review of Irish sociology.