Kirkus Star


Email this review


Sean O'Faolain's world rests on the delicate balance between memory and brute reality. In each of these stories a melancholy anguish is created from the corresponding imbalance of the two; in varying degrees and fashions his people rise of fall on the effects of memory in their lives. He is on the side of dreams: ""beauty and goodness exist only for so long as we create and nourish them by the force of our dreams"". Yet to the pain of actuality which memory generates the returns again and again. The finest of these stories of the tension between dream and reality is No Country for Old Men. Two middle-aged men are drawn together in memory of their youthful IRA days. They become involved in a raid, relive their own rebellious days and discover they would have parted ways and destroyed each other. Nevertheless, the memory of that time serves to defeat reality and further tighten their relationship. It is ironic, however, that the most luminous of the stories (Love's Young Dream) is devoid of the memory factor. Here, O'Faolain is faithful to the reality and writes with an unusual brilliance. The episode is treated so unreservedly that, belatedly, he seems to realize that there is no need to spin a yarn about the dream of a dream. With the exception of this story there is the feeling that there is something of the mysterious left in the narratives. But then it is precisely the element of revelation for which his characters are in constant search. O'Faolain has a finely wrought gift for the short narrative. This is an uncommon collection of stories.

Pub Date: Nov. 27th, 1961
Publisher: Little, Brown-A.N.P