An adolescent boy in a rural Irish village recounts the terrible events that befall him and his closest friends, in this debut novel from an Irish author.
Twenty-five-year-old Charlie McCarthy is the “Gamal” of the title—it’s a Gaelic word that means “fool.” He’s a sobbing mess with a head full of bad wiring and a case of PTSD to beat the band. Charlie is writing down the story of his adolescence at the demand of his shrink. It starts haltingly, with Charlie inserting drawings, dictionary definitions and court transcripts in lieu of narration, which is what a traumatized, poorly educated young man might do. But by the time he finds his rhythm, Charlie isn’t pulling any punches. “I seen fierce rotten things,” he writes. “Your head would be fucked if you seen what I seen. See what I see.” His story is ultimately about the fate of his only friends: James, a star-crossed lover who falls desperately in love with Sinéad, a lovely young girl with a beautiful voice. “I’ll mention others along the way,” Charlie tells us. “The story is mainly about people. And the things they do to each other.” Local rivalries, family feuds and Shakespearean tragedy all come into play in Collins’ dark story, but it’s Charlie’s haunted voice that makes it come to life.
A ferocious, heartbreaking confessional with a real voice.