Cody's Reviews > The Journey Home

The Journey Home by Dermot Bolger
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Jun 06, 08

bookshelves: the-irish-question
Read in June, 2008

"Home was not the place where you were born but the place you created for yourself, where you did not need to explain, where you finally became what you were."

An poignant discourse on the idea of "home," especially in a situation--so intense in Ireland, but resonant everywhere--that one might dub "traumatic," if we take traumatic to gesture at the paralysis that comes from a culture dangerously steeped in its past, too enamored with things that are lost. Foundations crumble and fragmentation ensues, and this is made painfully apparent in Bolger's characters and, impressively, embodied in his narrative structure.

*The Journey Home* is fabulous piece of contemporary Irish fiction. Bolger's predictions for Dublin's future are astoundingly accurate, yet, almost for the opposite reason than he intended, I think. By this I mean that Bolger seemed to dispel the myths of the rolling green hills by portending Ireland's descent into ruin and poverty, which couldn't be farther from the Celtic Tiger we know today. Yet, so many of those caught up in this "new" Ireland seem to have found themselves as marginalized and "homeless" as Bolger feared.

In many ways, Bolger's Dublin is closer to the Dublin I knew than any other literary portrait of the city I've encountered. While my experience was certainly not at all as extreme as Hano's, Katie's, and Shay's--or as melodramatic, which this book can be at times--the gritty, dreary feel of Hibernian urbanity, and the solitude that the cobbled city and deep history of Ireland can spark, is devastatingly affecting in *The Journey Home"--a real testament to Bolger's craft.
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