NIGHTLINES by Neil Jordan

NIGHTLINES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A slim and moody third novel by author and movie-director Jordan resembles his film The Crying Game with its unusual and highly personalized sense of Irish politics. And like his earlier film, The Miracle, this tale of betrayal and redemption delves into the tragic consequences of family secrets. Motherless since youth, Donal Gore grows up in the shadow of his father, a member of the Protestant Ascendancy who converted to Catholicism and took up the Republican cause during the War for Independence. Afterward, the senior Donal became a Free-Stater, willing to compromise for a stable government. What really bothers young Donal is having to compete with his father's claims to Donal's piano tutor, a beautiful redhead named Rose DeVrai. Having practiced lovemaking with his male buddy, Mouse, Donal finally seduces Rose to the sound of Rachmaninoff, and together they enjoy ""the melancholy of the truly damned."" Soon after, Donal's father announces his own engagement to Rose, who is half his age. Rather than witness this betrayal, Donal decides to get his ""hatreds in perspective"" by running off to join the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. Awaiting execution in a Loyalist jail, Donal is released against his will with intervention from home and, on his return, discovers that his father has been crippled by a stroke during his entire absence. Donal settles down and takes up fishing for a living, but he's soon contacted by his former captor, who expects him to serve as a conduit to the now-outlawed IRA. Donal instead pursues a course of further betrayal, indifferent to the moral consequences of his acts. His relentless sense of damnation is relieved by a spectral visitation, and a reconciliation over what father and son enjoy together most: fishing with nightlines, an Irish version of playing catch together. Jordan's cinematic sense of plot is more evident here than in his last novel (The Dream of a Beast, 1989), which had none of this story's wit. A movie version is in order.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1995
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Random