Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"There Are Little Kingdoms" by Kevin Barry is a collection of slightly surreal short stories set for the most part in small town rural Ireland. But it is small town Ireland on the cusp of change. The Celtic Tiger in some cases is just about to roar.

For example in "Ideal Homes" we encounter two twins running amuck in a small town. In the distance they can see the city encroaching on their home.

"There was a view south to the city: it was ever spreading, quickly approaching. It was ten miles wide of sodium light, a sea of promise laid out beneath them. They drank it in and tasted faster nights to come."

In the story "Breakfast Wine" we also bear witness to Kevin Barry's unique turn of phrase.

"But the crossword was left aside, for there was to be a disturbance this day in The North Star. The door opened up and glamour stepped in. Glamour carried itself with great elegance and ease. It was jewelled at the fingers and jewelled at the throat."

While the story "Burn The Bad Lamp" introduces to a jaded world weary genie.

"But then the smoke clears and the genie separates from legend. There are no tapered slippers nor flowing silks. He wears no turban, nor fathomless expression. He wears a pair of troubled chinos, an overcoat with fag burns on its lapels a pair of scuffed Nikes and a leery, self-satisfied smirk."

All in all this is an excellent first collection and should put Kevin Barry up with the best on the Irish literary Map.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

When a lone drifter lands one afternoon in the Twin Oaks Tavern owned by Nick and Cora Papadaks the scene is set for a classic noir thriller. In his debut novel “The Postman Always Rings Twice” James M. Cain charts the trials, tribulations and eventual fall of the main protagonist, drifter Frank Chambers.

This novel, which consists of a mere 116 pages, moves along at a fantastic pace and contains all the ingredients necessary for noir: life, death, lust, love murder and retribution.

Although published in 1934 and reflective of the social and racial mores of its time “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, is nevertheless a cracking electric novel. You couldn’t ask for a better introduction to the work of James M. Cain.


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