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The Picador Book of Contemporary Irish Fiction - BOLGER, Dermot

Picador, 1993, Hardback in Dustwrapper..
Condition: Very Good+ - in Very Good+ DJ.

olger takes the risk of arranging the volume in order of the period in which the piece of writing is set, which makes for some odd juxtapositions, like John McGahern's work, born in 1935, next to a short story by Bridget O'Connor, born in 1961, but it also means that all the novices don't hang off the end of a very fat book. Bolger includes 17 novel extracts, arguing that achievements in the novel genre have surpassed those of the short story, often regarded as Ireland's traditional form. One of the most impressive novel extracts must be "Proxopera", by Benedict Kiely, first published in 1977. The pacy and assured tone belies the moral outrage of the narrator, a respected local Ulster man, forced to carry a bomb in his car while his family is held hostage. "In my own town, dear God, battledress and camouflage in my own town. Could I tell him that time is ticking away?… (that) this is an historic moment and I was teacher of history and Latin and English Literature and time is ticking away." Both powerful and formally innovative, Kiely's fragmented tragicomic narrative suits perfectly the chaotically violent environment.Bolger makes the interesting point that women writers are debuting earlier than in previous generations. He does well to include Mary Dorcey's incisive "The Husband", which tells of the painful bewilderment of a husband whose wife leaves him for another woman. Bolger also introduces one of the funniest and punchiest new voices, Blanaid McKinney, whose layered, long story, peppered with electric one-liners, tells of two dissimilar Irish louses travelling across America. Another writer to watch is Michael O'Conghaile, translated here from the Irish for the first time. Exquisitely restrained and lyrically lean, "Father" tells the story of a young man coming out to his dad. He searches for the word, "a word there wasn't even a word for in Irish, not easy to find anyway…"Gentle humour undercuts the tension effectively, and the translation retains some of the rhythms of the Gaelic which makes the setting more richly evocative. Both Toibin and he pay tribute to Maeve Brennan, 1916-1993, who wrote for "The New Yorker" for 20 years, lived as a bag-lady in the magazine's lavatories, suffered from mental illness and died unrecognised in Ireland. Despite an editorial error of judgement with the inclusion of a slice of unreconstructed romance by Niall Williams, who sells as well as ever, both in Ireland and the United States, Bolger's is an impressive volume which offers the cutting edge of Irish fiction. 400pp.
ISBN: 0330326163

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