Tuesday, 30 September 2014
The Goats Are Singing
A Goat's Song - Dermot Healy
They say that character is fate and that that is the key to great tragedy. A Goat's Song has a character damaged by sobriety and one damaged by drink. The real tragedy, though, is not to be found in character but in a country, divided.
If you want to see a character fall you have to walk him over the edge and Jack Ferris, playwright, fisherman, drunk and lover does just that. Healy, who lived where Jack lives, on the western edge of Mayo, seems to have had an instinctive understanding that the marginal sees clearest, and while Jack feels the pull of Belfast and Dublin, it is the sea that hauls hardest and he always returns to the peninsula and the fishing boats.
Saturday, 20 September 2014
Fighting with Shadows, or Sciamachy - Dermot Healy
Fighting with Shadows, published in 1984, was Dermot Healy's first novel. It would be ten years before his second, A Goat's Song, hit the shelves. In many ways Fighting With Shadows has the mark of a first novel. It covers a huge amount of ground and seems almost overcome by all the things it has to say. However, it does say a lot and Healy's talent, already clear from his short stories, was confirmed by this novel.
The focus of the novel is on the Allen family, three generations of whom are featured. They are from the town of Fanacross, situated on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. The influence of the border is referred to on the first page: "The lorry-loads of watchful pigs descending the mountains by night to a slaughter house in the South. How the cattle get dizzy crossing the border for the grants in the North and back again for the grants in the South."
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
The Goats Are Singing
Banished Misfortune (5) - Dermot Healy
I've been stumbling slowly through the works of Dermot Healy for the past month, my reading somewhat ahead of my writing, but not too far.
I have been getting very tired, something which may be somewhat down to increasing myopia, which has led me to finally start wearing the glasses which made so little difference when I got them a couple of years back.
Here are some thoughts on the final five stories in Banish Misfortune.