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A Goat's Song

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  140 ratings  ·  16 reviews
In a wind-battered Mayo cottage, playwright Jack Ferris tries to salvage something from his broken love affair with Catherine Adams. Drink and despair drove her away; can his imagination call her back? But as he summons up her past, Jack finds he has also called up Catherine's RUC father and a whole dangerous world of opposed traditions.
ebook, 416 pages
Published June 30th 2011 by Vintage Digital (first published April 10th 1995)
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This reviewer has been out at sea three days. I've been hurled and whirled, up and down and backwards all at the same time, been beaten up and chased by goats, and had three barrels of rum, gin, brandy, vodka, Jack Daniels, whisky, whiskey, potcheen and every other spirit of Irish moonshine poured down my throat. What a way to spend Christmas. If I recover I will say something about this brilliant novel.
Seán Treacy
Healy --- what a gifted writer.

A Goat's Song is free of those novelistic tricks and turns that make fiction laborious, free from that awful sense of writerly contrivance that pollutes so many novels. It's so full of irrepressible human truth and life.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
I gave it a 3 as parts of this book were excellent, lyrical writing.

BUT and it's a big one. The story meandered. And meandered through lashings of drink and drunken fights. I didn't know what was real and what was imagined. And perhaps I wasn't meant to but it added to the confusion.

The good parts were very good. The description of the Northern/Southern Ireland conflicts, the differences in even the life of the towns. He catches all that and well.

The most interesting character in the book was Ca
Jul 17, 2014 Domhnall rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jojo
Recommended to Domhnall by: Guardian Review
Shelves: fiction
Jack Ferris is an Irish Catholic, writer of plays, occasional crew-man on a trawler off the West Coast, deeply self-obsessed and quite a serious alcoholic. Catherine Adams is the daughter of a sergeant in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, who had been a Loyalist and a fierce Presbyterian. She is an actress starting out in her career which might be thought to supply a basis for a relationship and indeed, we know from the start of this book that she is acting a part written by Jack with her in mind. ...more
A meandering and depressing tale of impossible, destructive love, soaked in steady lashings of booze. Set in Ireland during the 'troubles' the tale begins at the ending and then flashes backward to the beginning, taking no sides in the tumultuous, dysfunctional relationship of Jack & Catherine, or in the bigoted dispute between Catholics and Protestants. There's no explaining, there's only showing. It just is. At times the narrative was difficult to follow and at other times I simply didn't ...more
Emily H
One of the most beautiful books I've read.
Carly Svamvour
Nov 23rd, 2k14 - beginning a re-read

(just 'cause we don't like the current book discussion read for HP Library group in December - Tenth of December ... that's the title)

I remember this as being really good. Worth a re-read.

Jan 19th, 2k15 - better the second time around. I'd like to get some more books by this author.


Jeff and I are reading this together. It's going slow, this read - we've been distracted by other reads - and, of course 'life' itself. Been busy this spring.

Stephanie Renton
There are two stories in this novel, which come together towards the end. This story starts off with Jack Ferris, who is a playwright, who was recently left by his much loved Catherine. Jack is a drunk, he drinks in the morning, afternoon and evening.The drinking is what drove Catherine away. All he thinks of is Catherine, but he cannot stop drinking. He lives alone in a little house with his dog. Jack ends up going to a hospital to help him get off away from the alcohol, but even in the hospita ...more
While I can't comment on the veracity of the elements of purely Irish history (myths and the Troubles) and geography, the writing itself is splendid and succinctly captures the intensely destructive flame of lust that is consuming both its main characters. Its Irish-ness is not alienating, but rather enlightening (as in, you feel enriched after having read it, not put off, as in 'I can't understand where this is coming from ...'). Well worth the read.
A. Mary
Healy writes of drink, of art, of sectarianism, and he does it without relating causes, without explanations or apologies. Instead, he writes about them as functioning realities, not telling why there is a Protestant/Catholic divide in Northern Ireland, but rather showing it in daily life. There are families, neighbourhoods, lovers, in this almost epic story set in village and city, North and South. A Goat's Song is an Irish tragedy.
James Haliburton
An impressionistic tale of obsession where time loses itself in the details of a destructive relationship. A relationship that could be Jack and Catherine's or the two sides of a divided Ireland.
Richard Gallagher
Story of aa common guy trying to get by in present day Ireland. Interesting look into the difficulties with the country in both the North and South
Justin Fawsitt
Another lurid stereotype of the alcoholic Irishman. More nasty ashes for Angela! 400 pages of horror and delirium. Spare me!
Another of those Irish good. The story of a guy trying to do the sober thing and the woman he lost...
Aussi beau qu'âpre et désespéré.
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Dermot Healy (born 1947 in Finnea, County Westmeath, Ireland) was an Irish novelist, playwright, and poet. He won the Hennessy Award (1974 and 1976), the Tom Gallon Award (1983), and the Encore Award (1995). In 2011, he was shortlisted for the Poetry Now Award for his poetry collection, A Fool's Errand.

Healy was a member of Aosdána and of its governing body, the Toscaireacht, and lived in County S
More about Dermot Healy...
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