Nightlines

Nightlines

by Neil Jordan
     
 

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As Donal Gore awaits his execution in a Madrid prison during the Spanish Civil War, he is sustained by memories of setting fishing lines on the beach with his father back home in Ireland. Gradually, as he remembers, the events that brought him to a foreign cell emerge: the personal and political betrayals that are his heritage - and, it seems, his destiny. Released… See more details below

Overview

As Donal Gore awaits his execution in a Madrid prison during the Spanish Civil War, he is sustained by memories of setting fishing lines on the beach with his father back home in Ireland. Gradually, as he remembers, the events that brought him to a foreign cell emerge: the personal and political betrayals that are his heritage - and, it seems, his destiny. Released from prison by a German officer, who expects political intelligence in return, Donal returns to his windswept home on the Irish coast to find his once powerful father dramatically changed. The moving and magical heart of the novel explores the hopeless inability of Donal and his father to communicate with each other - until the father is literally beyond language. At the same time Nightlines centers on the poignant, intolerable triangular relationship that develops between father, son, and Rose, Donal's beautiful young stepmother.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Admirers still lamenting his loss to filmdom (The Crying Game) will cheer Jordan's (The Dream of a Beast; A Night in Tunisia) return to literary fiction, for Nightlines should propel him into the front ranks of contemporary Irish writers. Grounded in Ireland's ambiguous neutrality during WWII and in the Spanish Civil War, Jordan's novel is essentially a love triangle with a peculiar twist: two of the participants are father and son. The third is Rose, a piano teacher who arrives at the family house in Bray after the death of narrator Donal Gore's mother and triggers an unspoken battle between Donal and his father, an ex-minister in Ireland's troubled Free State government (which lasted from 1921 to 1937). Donal and Rose become involved, but the relationship seems to end when, having already betrayed his father's strongly held political principles by fraternizing with the IRA, Donal leaves Ireland to join anti-Fascist forces in Spain. Avoiding execution through the intercession of an anonymous Irish official he believes is his father, Donal befriends a German officer who arranges passage home in return for a promise to contact the IRA with a view to arranging an arms shipment. Back in Ireland, Donal finds his father wheelchair-bound and mute after a stroke, resumes his affair with Rose-now his stepmother-and waits for instructions from Germany. Jordan's highly controlled first-person narrative gracefully evokes the moral uncertainty of the period and, despite occasional overwriting, the novel remains a moody, passionate and entirely compelling examination of Ireland's equivocal past. (Sept.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Rebelling against his father's withdrawal from the Irish Republican cause, Donal Gore flees Ireland to enlist in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. In a Madrid prison, he reflects on youthful memories of his mother's death; his piano teacher, Rose (whom his father marries); and his flawed relationship with his father. Haunted by a failure to communicate, Donal and his father found peaceful interludes while silently casting nightlines for fisha ritual, Donal now recalls, that provided them with "an unspoken understanding." Donal's return to Ireland thrusts him into personal and political turmoil as he seeks reconciliation with his father and Rose. In this latest work, writer and film director Jordan (The Crying Game, 1992, and Interview with the Vampire, 1995) creates a classic tale of Irish angst replete with themes of betrayal, rebellion, and reconciliation. Recommended for most collections.Mary Ellen Elsbernd, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
Bonnie Smothers
Reading this story is like falling under a spell, never knowing or understanding its purpose, but willing to be taken under nevertheless. Jordan has the gift of seeing commonplace acts differently than most people. This is quite apparent from his body of film work, from "Mona Lisa" through "The Crying Game", and, visually at least, "Interview with the Vampire". In "Nightlines", Jordan explores the archetypal sexual rivalry between the father and the son. Donal Gore, the narrator, can never talk with his father. Both men strive to live in the moment; the strongest bond between them is night fishing, in silence, and an unexpressed love for the mother. When the mother dies, the silence in the house becomes nearly intolerable, and then the father hires a young woman to give Donal piano lessons. From this point begins a meditation on betrayal: Donal falls in love with the young woman, five years his senior, and seduces her, but the father soon marries the woman; Donal joins the Republican faction in Ireland (his father was a Free Stater), fights in the Spanish civil war, is imprisoned and then freed, and once back in Ireland, betrays the Republicans to the Free Staters; Meanwhile, he commences a love affair with his stepmother as his father sits helpless, immobilized by a stroke. Reviewing the plot of this work is useless. The power is in Jordan's idiosyncratic approach to the sordid and the commonplace, so that the understanding given is worthwhile and uplifting and magical.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679444398
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/14/1995
Pages:
194
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.94(d)

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