Friday, July 02, 2004

Reading in the half-light of semi-consciousness

Disclaimer: This is a record of my emotional reaction to a novel. No critical analysis was involved in the creation of this post.

Finally. Finally, finally, finally! After five long years, I can move Reading in the Dark, by Seamus Deane, from the shelf of unread books in my bedroom to the main repository.

Apparently, "Deane's book is the warmly compassionate, painstakingly gorgeous work of a mature man who wishes to memorialize the dead without yielding to sentimentality."

Yet somehow too sentimental for my taste.

He re-creates a landscape where the two principal modes of Irish myth-making, nationalist and supernatural, intertwine like a double helix, a landscape where the fabulous mingles with the workaday, where fairy children, one eye green and one brown, stand by police cars in the flickering light of Derry's tribal bonfires.

Whatever.

The language was "poetic," and the strung-together vignettes were somewhat poignant, funny, charming, etc.

But I found it all dreadfully boring.

Things Irish hold no particular appeal for me. But there must be more to my disinterest than that.

Family secrets. Skeletons and ghosts. Big deal. Everybody has those. I couldn't bring myself to care.

My fault, or the author's fault?

Reading in the Dark was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1996, along with the far superior and vastly more haunting and mysterious Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood.

A reading guide is available.
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