THE HEAT OF THE SUN by Sean O'Faolain


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All Russian writers, Dostoevsky claimed, came out of the pockets of Gogol's Overcoat. By the same token, it may be said that the handful of good Irish writers base their style on Joyce's Dubliners, as witness the latest collection by Sean O'Faolain. Of course, these tales owe something to The New Yorker. They are the work of an attractive, prudent talent, one that knows its limits, and therefore settles for the modest, satisfying accomplishment, rather than any Barnum undertaking. The underlying Joycean influence can be seen in the epiphanic effect, the spurts of robust humor, the telling colloquial touches, and some pleasantly laconic strains of poetic description. Never managing Joyce's depth or harsh realism, O'Faolain does succeed in turning his more or less grubby commoners into poignant, funny, very human figures. His stories rarely linger in the mind, but ""In the Bosom of the Country"" he charmingly conveys the amusing puzzlement of a Catholic convert; ""A Sweet Colleen"" makes an endearing joke of May-December romancing; and ""Charlie's Greek"" is a sardonic comment on illusion and reality. The best of the lot is, naturally, the title story, which touchingly presents the plight of a youthful dead-ender against the background of a pub, a recent death, and unrequited love. It is a real achievement.

Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.