Students of Irish literature, Trinity College alumni and postmodernist playwrights will find a few small joys here and...



Two aging Irish raconteurs take an unexpected tumble through their halcyon days.

Best known for the 1966 metaphysical comedy Inish, Share (Slanguage, 2008, etc.) runs wild with an equally surrealist notion in this slight but whimsical tale about time travel and the perils of revisiting the past. The novel opens in an unnamed airport in the Middle East circa 1990. Two Irish expats meet during a bathroom run-in and immediately go looking for the closest spot to drink. The stouter of the two is a Latin-spouting rake who professes to using the performing name “A N Other”; his slimmer and decidedly more cautious companion recalls his writing pseudonym as Meniscus but is quickly dubbed “Rimmer” by Other. After downing an unusual bottle of Jordanian plonk, the unlikely duo find themselves transported back to the Dublin of their younger days, bounding back and forth from 1949 to 1950 and revisiting their younger selves at Trinity College in Dublin. Share’s prose, while economically literate and entrenched in the characteristics of Irish drama, borders on nonsensical much of the time. Yet his protagonists nevertheless convey a witty, antique charm as they mutter Beckett-like asides to themselves. “To travel is, hopefully, better than to arrive,” Other says as he tries to ferret out their whereabouts at their first tumultuous intersection. In a later chapter, Rimmer, who suddenly finds his elder mind couched inside his younger self, frantically tries to make sense of a moment from his own past: “If I was not here then I cannot be here now.” Ultimately, the men find their histories are far more connected than they first realized. “Two hands, perhaps, patting the same dog,” Other observes of their linked experience.

Students of Irish literature, Trinity College alumni and postmodernist playwrights will find a few small joys here and there, but more casual readers are likely to find themselves lost.

Pub Date: May 19, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56478-542-8

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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