All of the Irish clichÇs—drink, religion, and more than a touch of blarney—strut their stuff in this satirical first novel that, mindful of the great native literary tradition, tries to amuse as well as dazzle. Set in Killoyle, a place as much obsessed with its growing relations with Europe as it once was with Britain, the story follows the lives of some of the town's finest citizens: Milo Rogers, the waiter and would-be poet; Patrick Murphy, the barman at Spudorgan Hall, the local hotel; Wolfetone Grey, in charge of the hotel's catering; Emmet Power, the hotel manager; Kathy Hickman, columnist for Glam, a women's magazine; Father Doyle, the parish priest; and Thomas ``the Greek'' Maher, a sleazy developer. As to be expected in farce, these lives intersect or connect in lively and improbable ways and, this being an Irish story, the humor is often rather dark. Lives and substance are wasted on alcohol, dreams are more vivid than reality, and real happiness seems at best unlikely. Plot is secondary to character, but there's enough to hold together a narrative obtrusively interrupted by jokey footnotes on almost every page. Among the events: The aging Father Doyle drinks to help him accept that he'll never revisit Rome, where he spent a happy year in his early priesthood; Maher schemes to increase his property holdings; Murphy is fired and becomes a terrorist; Milo is promoted, then begins a typically dilatory Irish courtship of the still lissome Kathy, who once posed for a British porn magazine; Wolfetone, obsessed with a religion whose adherents' names begin with G, goes mad; and Emmet Power and his wife find a pleasant billet running a Jesuit college in Italy. Poor Father Doyle, promised a post in Rome, dies before he can take it up. Despite the often strained humor, Boylan's debut succeeds as a work in which the telling is more important—and more beguiling- -than the tale.
Read full book review >