A quick check of Irish Writers Online provided this biographical info:
Frank Ronan was born in New Ross, Co Wexford in 1963.
His first novel, The Man Who Loved Evelyn Cotton (London, Bloomsbury, 1989), received the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Irish Literature Prize. His subsequent novels include A Picnic in Eden (Bloomsbury, 1991); The Better Angel (Bloomsbury, 1992); Lovely (London, Sceptre, 1995); and Home (Sceptre, 2002).
His stories are collected as Dixie Chicken (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1994).
He has lived in France and England.
"We had lived on peaches alone in Monte Carlo, and slept on half the beaches in the northern half of the Mediterranean; had outstayed our welcome in the houses of Italians and watched a naked, muscular Dutchman, with dreadlocks halfway down his glistening black back, play Macbeth in a scaffolding castle on the polder. We played it gay and straight, depending on whom we didn't want to sleep with, for Emma was saving herself for a romantically thin man at Manchester University, and I was just saving myself."
The narrator then finds himself alone and hitch-hiking to Germany to be with his friend Donald, who is working at a gherkin pickling factory (and living in its dormitory) for the summer. The workers posses an intense hatred of the owner, Frau Jater, who prizes the cherry tree in her yard above all else. They are plotting to" kill or maim" the tree.
"Since Donald was the only reason I had come to that place, I'd watch him to see if he was more in favour of the tree or against the Jaters, but he had other problems that summer and was more disconnected than his usual, ethereal self. Because there wasn't a spare bed, and because I wasn't supposed to be there at all, I slept in the same bed as him, which was how I would have slept for preference in any case. We assumed that it was assumed that we were lovers. And that was fine, because it was part of the elaborate double bluff we played on ourselves..."
As the story continues, there is growing unrest and a strike by the workers, and drama involving Donald and the narrator climaxing with the narrator offering the means to kill the cherry tree.
'Salt,' I said, wiping the back of my salted face on Donald's shirt. 'You can kill the tree with a strong solution of salt, and no one will be the wiser.'
Overall, I was disappointed. There are surely associations and meanings that were lost on me. If you're familiar with this author or story, please clue me in.... I'm afraid I missed the point.
Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.