CHILDREN OF LIR: Stories from Ireland by Desmond Hogan

CHILDREN OF LIR: Stories from Ireland

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Thirteen stories from the author of The Ikon Maker and The Leaves on Grey--and, though the tersely moody style and Ireland/England detailing are occasionally striking, these are generally unformed tales which largely repeat the themes and situations of Hogan's novels. Here again, then, is the male/male/female triangle of The Leaves on Grey. And here, in over half the stories, is Hogan's alter ego--sometimes called Desmond, sometimes not: he's usually a creative sort in his 20s (photographer, dancer, etc.), come from Galway to Dublin or London; he's often once-married; he's almost always vaguely, sentimentally bisexual; and, while some story collections can turn a recurring protagonist to advantage, the murmurous discomforts of Hogan's wan, similar young men merely seem to reflect a shortage of fiction-worthy material. ""He'd left father and mother, sisters and brothers, concepts of gender and followed the momentary, the flashing, that which yielded nothing concrete but a mime, a dance. . . ."" That's the rather preciously self-regarding sensibility here, and it blurs some potentially involving situations: one young man shares a London flat with his unstable sister; another is fascinated by a Protestant lad from Belfast who winds up in the IRA; another, teaching in Dublin, can't quite respond to a sorry young pupil's adoration. Unfortunately, Hogan doesn't relax enough to get at the heart of any of these involvements; he much too often resorts to summarizing feelings and announcing his themes instead. And without solid life-size grounding, the attempts at investing these stories with greater weight--chiefly through parallels to the paradox of Irish violence vs. pacifism--seem awkward. So, though Hogan's distinctiveness of tone (lean, dour, reluctantly lyrical) is often on good display here, the story form seems to highlight his limitations; and readers interested in Irish fiction will do far better with his short novels--where the edgy spots of feeling and thought can quietly, slowly accumulate.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Braziller