I enjoyed the book - obviously; it's set in Dublin and is primarily about constructing a life story out of unreliable memories, so my scholarly intereI enjoyed the book - obviously; it's set in Dublin and is primarily about constructing a life story out of unreliable memories, so my scholarly interests are piqued - but it was probably at least 30% longer than it should have been. Additionally, one of the blurbs on the back cover is fairly misleading - "The darker, grungier, flipside to Harry Potter, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" - which made me a bit impatient with the book at times. That's a shame, because it's quite good at what it does - which I suppose is "dark and grungy" - but the fact that there are some (mostly background) supernatural elements to the novel doesn't warrant a mention of two other texts that are doing quite different things with the supernatural....more
What an intriguing novel! I think the reviewers who say they "don't get it" are kind of missing the point - the premise is absurd, the narrative is frWhat an intriguing novel! I think the reviewers who say they "don't get it" are kind of missing the point - the premise is absurd, the narrative is fragmentary, and the main characters' obsessions are esoteric and clearly not supposed to make (real/logical) sense. But isn't it compelling, the pseudoscience of eternal sound waves and cyclical floods and culling populations through some kind of telepathy with the inanimate world, especially when developed alongside the motif of Irish mythology? Doesn't it make you want to think about the world differently?
Murphy's prose is beautiful, and that he can achieve that kind of lyric voice while describing a protagonist who enters the seminary because he has a vision of Elvis ("the King," great word play!) telling him to do so, I mean... I'm enraptured. ...more
Although I intensely disliked the first two chapters or so - the pace was too rushed; the opening felt perfunctory and the material would have been beAlthough I intensely disliked the first two chapters or so - the pace was too rushed; the opening felt perfunctory and the material would have been better as backstory - the novel turned out to be exactly my kind of read: an unreliable and unlikable protagonist somehow makes you care about the details of his life. I mean, I lost sleep every night this week as I stayed up too late reading. The characterisation in this novel - of the minor characters as well as Rory - is just SPOT. ON. Subtle and true-to-life, but so immediate and compelling. Four stars because it's obviously a first novel (god, that sounds pretentious, sorry), and the plot kind of dies in the final third of the book, though honestly, the plot is far less important than the characters. I'm really looking forward to reading more by Binchy; going for Open-Handed next, I think, once I can track down a copy. ...more
I didn't relish this memoir half as much as I wanted or expected. (Isn't that typically the way with me, though? I like books I expect to hate, and inI didn't relish this memoir half as much as I wanted or expected. (Isn't that typically the way with me, though? I like books I expect to hate, and inevitably end up disappointed when my expectations are too high?) Let me be quick to acknowledge that I appreciate the book even though I didn't particularly enjoy reading it, partially because I don't think this book is meant to be enjoyed as such. It's emotionally draining and I couldn't read more than small sections at a time.
The three-star rating has a lot to do with how repetitive it felt. I understand that, in memoir, strict chronology isn't to be expected, and important events will recur in the narrative as the author thinks through various stages of his or her life and redraws connections, etc. That being said, McGahern frequently used the same phrasing to describe one event every time it appeared in the text, so that I experienced a strange kind of déjà vu rather than a thoughtful return to the past. This very well could be intentional - memory is strange, and it's difficult to capture in writing the subjective experience - but I didn't enjoy the style. It sounds petulant, but I have little patience for repetitive writing despite the fact that (or rather, because?) it's a particular weakness of my own. :/...more