Monday, November 30, 2015

Books of the Year - Brian J Showers

We’ve been asking Wormwood contributors and friends what books they’ve enjoyed this year, old or new. We’ll be posting their replies throughout December. Here’s our first.

Brian J Showers of The Swan River Press, Dublin, writes:

"I wake up on a damp pillow. My dreams must have leaked." One of my most pleasant reading experiences of 2015 is a novel called Eggshells by Caitriona Lally (Liberties Press). Of all the new writing coming out of Ireland, the whimsical and slightly depressed surreality of Eggshells grabbed my attention within the first few pages - probably due to the sheer oddness of the book's main character Vivian.

The story starts in mid-action. Vivian, adrift of mind, is searching for a way to dispose of the ashen remains of her Great-Aunt Maud (three weeks' deceased). Putting a pinch in each envelope, she decides to post them off to people listed in her Great-Aunt's address book. "There are a few 'A's and 'C's, a couple of 'G's, an 'H' and some 'M's, but my great-aunt seems to have stopped making friends when she hit 'N'."

Vivian also likes to make lists, and the book is filled with such poetic litanies of the commonplace. Chapter on chapter the narrative wanders as Vivian reads the streets of Dublin and encounters the awkward social challenges that arise therefrom. And she grafts her Oulipian navigations of the city onto a street map of Dublin with edges frayed, chewed at by mice and silverfish. A neat metaphor for sure.

Lally's novel doesn't reimagine Dublin, as some critics have asserted, but rather views it differently, reading the geographical marginalia while others, less adventurous, are content traversing the main text. I'm looking forward to Lally's next.

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