I was delighted to hear this morning that Orbis has reviewed Mother America. It's a good review (full text below) - it is always interesting to see what readers tune in to and this reviewer - Dave Troman - zoned in on things that others haven't. And he enjoyed things that directly contradict criticisms by other reviewers. Which just shows to go ya, reading is and always will be subjective, and personal taste is all.
Big thanks to Dave Troman and Orbis. And note to self - write some sympathetic male characters...(Mind you, I love my male characters. They are flawed, sure, but aren't we all?)
To celebrate this lovely review - and Christmas too - I am giving away a copy of the book on my Facebook page. Go here to enter.
UNCOMPRISING TRUTHS: REVIEW BY DAVE TROMAN - ORBIS #161
Mother America by Nuala Ní Chonchúir, 163 pp, €12.99, New Island Fiction, 2 Brookside, Dundrum Road, Dublin 14, www.newisland.ie
This fourth collection of short stories contains 19 compelling tales: honest, uncompromising, thought-provoking and at times uncomfortable, particularly for the male reader: they may strike close to home. Each has a point, and makes it. The focus is on mothers but what each reader takes away will vary.
The tales have an uncanny knack of reading the reader and relating to whichever position/positions in the family is occupied. Every facet comes under scrutiny, with no attempt made to gloss over the fact that family is hard work. Ní Chonchúir’s prose captures the mood of her native Ireland with evocative phrases: ‘The potato pit was covered with flour sacks’ and ‘I landed at Shannon Airport and within minutes was driving alongside green fields dotted with cows and sheep their muzzles fixed to the grass in an eternity of grazing.’
Paris too is superbly captured in the details of place names, street names and turns of phrase: ‘The Eiffel Tower pokes like the folly that it is from the quai’. The strength of the pieces comes from their acuity of observation, eg. ‘Everyone in the cafe stared while pretending not to.’ That clarity applies equally to the characters. All are finely drawn, empathetic in their strengths and weaknesses.
Picking favourites from such high quality work is not easy but two live in the memory. Firstly, ‘The Egg Pyramid’, for its opening: ‘There are things you can do when your husband sleeps with your sister.’ This draws me in completely and the rest fulfils the promise with some magical turns of phrases: ‘You can fly to New York then hurry home again because Diego pulls on you like mother moon pulls on the sea.’ And ‘Cri de Coeur’ presents an oft neglected viewpoint on a story of Ted Hughes and his mistress, previously unknown to me.
Having finished, I put the book down on my bedside table, contemplated it, then started again from the beginning. I challenge you not to do the same.