Dennis Weeks's Reviews > False Mermaid

False Mermaid by Erin Hart
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's review
Jun 03, 2010

it was amazing

A fine book on the Irish and their sense of time.
A few years ago I visited the Dublin street where my great great grandparents lived during the 19th century. I began chatting with one of the current residents of the street, a woman of about 65. She bent down and pointed to a spot under a parked car."That's where the Black & Tans captured Kevin Barry, you know. One of the more foolish neighbors had seen him scoot under a car and called out to him, 'Kevin Barry what are you doing under that car'? The poor git didn't realize the Tans where looking for him and they arrested the poor boy and executed him." This conversation took place eighty-some years after the incident but to this Dubliner it was as if she had seen it last week.
False Mermaid reminded me of this very Irish sense of time. It combines a 19th century disappearance of a woman and an ancient story about the selkie, a seal who sheds her skin and becomes a woman but dons her skin years later and returns to the sea. This becomes the framing element for a story about more recent murders and the devastation these crimes have created in the psyches of the living.


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