Dermot Healy: A Goat's Song



H Two places that can never be together and can never be apart I didn t know a lot of the context in which some of the events took place and the book set the scene for these really well which as an Irish person elped to explain this recent enough part of our country s Goethean Science history For example I didn t knowow sever the tensions were between people and Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! how opening your mouth to express yourself was genuinely dangerous At times the plot can meander a bit than I liked but this was a small flaw in brilliant bookThe scenery in Belmullet is like an added character I loved the occasional references to goats throughout the tale tooAdditionally the book is a veryonest account of Digital Crossroads how alcoholism can play out in Ireland and this is rarely confronted soonestly in our novels films etc I gave it a 3 as parts of this book were excellent lyrical writingBUT and it s a big one The story meandered And meandered through lashings of drink and drunken fights I didn t know what was real and what was imagined And perhaps I wasn t meant to but it added to the confusionThe good parts were very good The description of the NorthernSouthern Ireland conflicts the differences in even the life of the towns He catches all that and wellThe most interesting character in the book was Catherine s father Jonathan Adams I onestly thought the book should ave been about The Einstein Theory of Relativity him A wonderful complex character Unlike the two leads who bored me with their endless drunken shenanigans and whining An intensely personal rambling poetic book telling the story of an alcoholic writer in rural Ireland This book was one Iad meant to read for some time and when I How to Negotiate Your First Job heard it being name checked recently by Kevin Barry on a Top 5 books podcast that tipped the odds in its favourVery briefly it s about a tortured love affair set mostly in the Mullet peninsula of Mayo but with excursions also to Belfast and theeartland of Ulster Unionism The characters also seem to lead lives that encompass abnormal ie way too much levels of alcohol In fact it s pretty clear that the main character is a full blown alcoholicI think the way all of the places involved are described is first class you really get a sense of the elemental nature of life on the West coast and ow the wind is ever present In Belfast there is a great sense of claustrophobic society ow everyone seems to know what the other person is doing and what religion they adhere to The description of the way that the female character s father an RUC man finds a bolt ole on the West coast of Ire. Ncholy beauty resonates with the deepest truths” Boston Glob.

Healy what a gifted writerA Goat s Song is free of those novelistic tricks and turns that make fiction laborious free from that awful sense of writerly contrivance that pollutes so many novels It s so full of irrepressible uman truth and lifeWonderful wonderful wonderful One of the most beautiful books I ve read Jack Ferris is an Irish Catholic writer of plays occasional crew man on a trawler off the West Coast deeply self obsessed and uite a serious alcoholic Catherine Adams is the daughter of a sergeant in the Royal Ulster Constabulary who The Literary Relationship of Lord Byron and Thomas Moore had been a Loyalist and a fierce Presbyterian She is an actress starting out iner career which might be thought to supply a basis for a relationship and indeed we know from the start of this book that she is acting a part written by Jack with Suggestions for Marketing Small Timber her in mind There are no serious spoilers in this review the book starts near the end of its story and travels back in time But there are an awful lot of obstacles to this affair lasting beyond the early flush of physical attraction a force known to undermine all sensible boundaries It seems to me that the novel concerns the efforts by Jack Ferris to understand the nature of those obstacles and to somehow devise a path through them that might translate lust into love In the process we are shown many features of the sectarianism and that divides Catholic from Protestant in Northern Ireland though it does not seem to me that the book is intrinsically judgemental or inclined to either side The issues are just there in the foreground dominating two lives in which politicsas no part to play but cannot easily be escaped This makes it a Romeo and Juliet scenario in some ways The old stories are always a good model for the new I am interested in the language of this novel On Christmas morning in Chapter 6 Jack s alcholism is addressed and New Exploration he writes He sat immobile in front ofis desk His mind was trying to make a leap into the dark but The Shaping of Western Civilization hisands would not comply His thumb and forefinger were numb If e tried to write they froze And inside is The Ecology, Exploitation and Conservation of River Turtles head language no longer arrived grammatically but surfaced as a series of bizarre signs p60 All the same Dermot Healy sets outis account in the most grammatical and clearly precise terms and there is no uestion that Medicine and Religion he achievesis intended effect with great skill I wonder if that explains why the book is uite The Hockey Saint (Forever Friends, hard work at times and took a relatively long time for me to read There are signs at times of a struggle to achieveis desired effect If the language in Valentino his cha. An Irish playwright reimaginesis estranged lover’s past in.

Racter s ead is not grammatical why is the novel so grammatical If it is a series of bizarre signs then where are they on the page Don t get me wrong ere I am not pouncing on a failing in the work of a very impressive writer and pointing out a blemish Rather I am thinking aloud and comparing this style of writing to alternatives such as that of Eimear McBride in A Girl Is a Half formed Thing I just find it an interesting idea to compare the two the apples and oranges the different aspects of the one great project which is writing truthful fiction This reviewer Shunned has been out at sea three days I ve beenurled and whirled up and down and backwards all at the same time been beaten up and chased by goats and Craving (Willow Creek, had three barrels of rum gin brandy vodka Jack Daniels whisky whiskey potcheen and every other spirit of Irish moonshine poured down my throat What a way to spend Christmas If I recover I will say something about this brilliant novel One of my favorite books of all time Pure poetic fiction about a drunk whoas lost the love of is life The sadness is so tangibly beautiful the imagery will sweep you away Simply put Healy is a master with words and A Goat Song delivers in so many waysIts just one of those books I can never forget and think about often for no particular reason except for ow well it is written When a book is this well written it doesn t matter what it s about I ll be reading everything by Dermot Healy that I can promise An astonishing gut wrenching eartbreaking masterpiece A Goat s Song is what I would class a perfect contemporary Irish novel and a perfect modern love story by love I mean star crossed love The real skill in the story is the format which flits forwards and backwards in time between different characters and their perspectives but this is effortless Healy does this with real skill It s rarely confusing always extremely literary but original and not laboured The story flows beautifully from Jack Ferris complex alcoholic writer fisherman lover to Jonathan Adams RUC man aunted by is failure in the church and violence in NI His desire to conuer Irish language and mythology land back to Catherine wreckless beautiful talented actress promiscuous flawed real seeming characters caught up in their place in time tangled by the politics of Ireland and NI The book spins a modern mythology with the tragedies of ordinary lives reflected in it The complex webs between the characters become a metaphor symbolic of the tragic relationship between Ireland and the Nort. This “rare and powerful book”E Annie Proulx whose “mela.

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Dermot Healy born 1947 in Finnea County Westmeath Ireland was an Irish novelist playwright and poet He won the Hennessy Award 1974 and 1976 the Tom Gallon Award 1983 and the Encore Award 1995 In 2011 he was shortlisted for the Poetry Now Award for his poetry collection A Fool's ErrandHealy was a member of Aosdána and of its governing body the Toscaireacht and lived in County S