This first-person POV story is about a forty-one year old poet who has been in a desolate area of Ireland for just eight months. He needed a change of scenery and was hooked into buying an old inn. He doesn't fit in with the locals but when the flood hits, he accepts his situation and his imagination returns and the ideas and images for his poems emerge. It is full of great dialogue and interesting characters.
I had never read Kevin Barry but was intrigued after reading Larry Dark's interview with Barry about his short stories so I pulled this story off of my shelf. I love the way the menagerie of characters in the bar continue talking, each following their own train of thought. The main theme for me is that once a person accepts life in a general kind of way, not just giving up, but an acceptance of sorts, then imagination and efforts are set free. I think a second theme of the story is that "even your passions exhaust you." And, of course, there's the symbolism of water washing away sins even though it only rises to the middle of the steps going to the second floor.
link to the story in The New Yorker
a review of the story at The Sitting Bee blog