No Solace here

October 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Middle Weight Fiction, Solace | Leave a comment
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Belinda McKeon ‘Solace’ Picador 2011

I really like Belinda McKeon, she has written eloquently for the Irish Times for many years, has curated the DLR Poetry Now Festival and I always enjoyed her keen observations and contributions on ‘The View ‘ . I waited in anticipation for the release of her long promised debut novel but am so sorry to report I was so disappointed with  ‘Solace’.

‘Solace’  has a highly unoriginal plot of a thirty year old Irish man cutting ties the family farm to pursue his studies in the capital city where he manges to fall for the daughter of his fathers only enemy from back home with ‘devastating consequences’. The story itself places restraints on the writing, it does not act as a vehicle for any new or innovative message or emotional evocation, family dynamics are well enough documented in McKeon’s prose but are drowned in a narrative that fails its author’s ability  and although the story is tense there is little sense of tension created in the writing.

This is one occasion where I wish I was wrong, this is a light not a literary story with uninspiring narrative progression and slow character development, actually by the novels end I couldn’t see that the main character was changed by any of his experiences at all. If McKeon wanted to evoke life outside the Country’s capital in this story it is a flat attempt whereas Kevin Barry’s short stories ‘There are Little Kingdoms’ evoke  this tenderly.

I am confident of McKeon’s abilities and look forward to future more assured writing. When I expressed my disappointment to family and friends they were very surprised having read luminous reviews in much national media which is correct this debut novel has been in critical reviews very well received however looking deeper into readers reviews online they were in contradiction collectively critical and disappointed with what was poised to be a sparkling debut.

Below are some links to various reviews of Solace to add to this debate.

Good Reads  

Is romantic Ireland dead and gone?..not with the click of your mouse

March 8, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Posted in Great for Book Clubs, Literary Fiction | 5 Comments
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‘Fishing in Beirut’ Steven Callaghan, Blue Press, September 2010.

Whoever said Irish writing and the Irish Publishing industry is in decline hasn’t read Fishing in Beirut. I say this for two reasons. 1. Steven Callaghan is a super brand new Irish voice in writing and 2. This novel is being published, serialized, online. Fishing in Beirut is an ambitious novel which delivers on many levels and the serialization of this story, online, is one of the most original ways I have encountered a novel.  It is the story of five modern characters living in Paris. It has tangible descriptions of Paris, iconic landmarks we all know mixed in with gritty characters that reveal, through their stories, the underbelly of Parisian life that also exists. It is made up of short scenes, beautiful and sometimes poignant literary sentences that you will want to linger over. Each scene and character portrait is full of promise and you feel a culmination building the deeper you go into the novel. Callaghan’s writing is a reward in itself but is balanced with very humanly drawn out characters which makes this literary debut also a compelling page turner. What I especially loved about this novel was the Hemmingway reminiscent food descriptions which often made me hungry. With a new scene released every day I have found myself eagerly logging on. Forget the e-reader or the kindle; online publishing is clearly where it’s at. If this novel is heralding in a new era in contemporary Irish literary fiction, I for one am in. Is romantic Ireland dead and gone? No way…not with the click of your mouse!

Haiku; One Irish author, Five characters in Paris, fantastic debut

Click here to view this book on Blue Press Publishing

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