Carnby Patrick McCabe, Donal Donnelly
Patrick McCabe, whom the San Francisco Chronicle called "one of the most brilliant writers ever to come out of Ireland," presents another compelling novel of small-town Ireland that leaves its indelible mark on the canon of classic fiction. Carn is the story of two women; Josie Keenan, who returns to Carn, Ireland, the provincial hometown she once left behind, and Sadie Rooney, a factory worker who dreams of leaving. As the two women strike up a friendshipfueled by hopes to better their lives, yet inextricably tied to the tenuous fate of Carneach must confront the hard truths of her past and future. And despite its own attempt to thrive, the town itself cannot escape the daily reminders of Ireland's endless legacy of violence and unrest.
Written in the raw, unsparing prose that marks McCabe's fiction, Carn is the timeless story of a small town struggling to break away from its bleak past, and the lives of two women aching to escape the forces that shaped them.
The town of Carn is somewhere up north, near the border where Ireland ends and North Ireland begins, and it's not much of a place. A small railway junction and cattle market, it was sleepy to start with and nearly nods off altogether when the trains stop running: "It got to the stage where no one expected anything good to happen ever again." Then a big-shot local opens a meatpacking factory that gets the place whirring. For the people of Carnyoung girls like Sadie Rooney, old tarts like Josie Keenan, IRA toughs like Benny Dolanthe life of the town becomes a substitute for life itself; the insuperable boredom and frustration they suffer is subsumed in their daily rounds as they drift from work to pub to church and back. Like most good regional writers, McCabe assembles a portrait of the place from seemingly random, modest events. And by concentrating on the lives of the town's inhabitants (of every class and condition), he allows us to see how they are bound together by a dense, shared history of poverty and oppression and by the close similarity of their habits and fears. When the larger world begins to intrude itself through the violence and terrors of the modern Troubles spilling over from Northern Ireland, the town is unprepared. While some, like Benny Dolan, welcome the violence and conspiracy as an escape from boredom, most of the people are unable to make sense of the sudden upsurge of danger. The symbolic ending is obvious and heavy-handedappropriately so.
Marvelously rendered and deeply felt: a story about the inescapable impact of Irish history on Irish life that's told with an immense, quiet power.
- Recorded Books, LLC
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