The Irish authors have a tremendous advantage when they have an ear for that lilt in the speech as it is spoken. Dunne's got it. His narrator, Paddy Maguire, never sentimentalizes the hill he's saying goodbye to. He's smart pup who's survived all the disease, death and heartache that the traditional Irish slum has to teach. He doesn't know a thing about wearing underwear, but he's instinctively drawn to a well-cut suit. He was sexually precocious and initiated by a housewife. Before he's twenty, his only relation to the word ""catholic"" is his experience of sex. His chief mentor in scrounging survival tactics is a slightly pickled, perennial bachelor who poses as a writer: he and Paddy's mother are the strongest characters in a short novel with a cast as big as the slum. Having lied his way into a clerk apprentice job, Paddy has just enough talent to dream of making it up in the world the easy way-- saloon singing and comic routines. His desk job requires effort and anonymity. Paddy's mother knows it's the safest way off the hill and curses him in true Irish style when he tries to say his goodbye. The humor is rich and abrasive with a strong sense of reality as refracted by the bottom of a whiskey glass. Watch for Dunne's next. He's walked in well with this first novel of skinning out.