A tour de force that pulls us into a tangled web of lives permanently changed by “the Irish crash.”
It is not easy to untangle these lives, for the book is not a linear read. At the hub of the web is Bobby, who begins the novella with his story. Bookending Spinning Heart is Bobby’s wife, Triona. In-between are 19 compelling first-person stories, all of which link one way or another to the others.
The Spinning Heart is no Modern Irish History for Dummies. The references to “stamps.” The slang of multiple generations. It takes real work to understand the nuances, even the out-and-out meaning, of many words. Still, every minute invested is worth the effort, for Donal Ryan’s has constructed his town and the townspeople’s collective stories very carefully.
This work is relatively short—only 156 pages—and so I found myself going back to reread some of the vignettes, to look at this person or that with the benefit of my collective insights. I tracked down “clues” Ryan had planted, which made sense only upon finishing the book.
I feel for all 21 of the people whose voices make up Spinning Heart, but my favorite is Hillary, who is hilarious (sorry) and wise beyond her years. She tells us, for example, how she pulls her friend Réaltín back to terra firma: “Your relationship to [Bobby the construction worker], I told her, is as follows: You are a f— crazy single mother living in a freaky ghost estate who breaks things in her house and makes him fix them. That is not a relationship on the basis of which you have a right to be weeping at the foot of the gallows. He’s not Braveheart... Sometimes you have to be firm with Réaltín.”
Through accounts like these, we come to understand not only each storyteller, but the people who make up their lives.
Guardian First Book Award. In a post-Celtic Tiger Irish village, 21 voices tell the story of their despair. Unfortunately, the voices are almost indistinguishable and there is nothing on the underlying reasons for the failure of the economy.
Sensational. I could not put it down.
Wonderful imagery ..gift for language, listening and feeling.
Am looking forward to his next book
"Narrated by unforgettably distinct characters -- one chapter per character -- who relay some of the same events, this dialect-rich novel follows a small Irish town in the aftermath of the country's financial collapse. Their own major employer, a construction company, has folded, bringing about rising tensions and violence as resources become increasingly hard to come by. The narrators, who share their own experiences, also build a picture of one Bobby Mahon, who enjoys a reputation as an upstanding citizen but may not entirely deserve it. Though necessarily bleak and grey, this engaging and occasionally humorous debut won the Guardian First Book Award and may appeal to fans of Tana French's Broken Harbour, which depicts a murder investigation in a similarly stricken Ireland." Fiction A to Z April 2014 newsletter http://www.libraryaware.com/996/NewsletterIssues/ViewIssue/dfef437d-ef88-41c9-a7e1-229a907a8f88?postId=8ed16493-2fe1-4059-b706-6d0ff80212e7
Excellent characterization and vivid description of lives in hard times. A little bleak but well worth the read to the end.
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