First Sentence: Whatever’s wrong with us is coming in off that river.
Kevin Barry has created a scarily believable dystopian future in this book. Set in 2054 in the fictional West Ireland city of Bohane it is a novel teeming with miscreants and malcontents. The city itself is a wonderful creation full of idiosyncratic nooks and alleyways and memorable subdivisions such as Smoketown (where the drinking and whoring takes place), The Big Nothin’ (which is, well, nothing really…the countryside I suppose where the pikeys live), The Back Trace (which is almost respectable) and the Northside Rises (populated by those who live in the tower blocks). And that is to say nothing of the characters who live in this crumbling cesspit. Original, unforgettable and thoroughly enjoyable, this is a very fine book indeed. There is a description on the back of the book which in my opinion sums it up perfectly in ten words: “As if Joyce had sat down and written Sin City.” What more can I say? The story itself is concerned with Logan Hartnett, the leader of the Hartnett Fancy gang which controls the entire city of Bohane. Trouble is brewing however and there is talk his old enemy, The Gant Broderick, is back in town. Added to this is the problem of overly ambitious henchmen Fucker Burke and Wolfie Stanners, not to mention Jenni Ching from the Ho Pee Ching Oh-Kay Koffee Shoppe, his wife Macu who wants him to pack it all in and most importantly of all, Girly, his mother, the one who really controls Bohane. 2054 is looking to be a bad year for Logan Hartnett y’check me?
* * * *
Last Sentence: Hung upon the livid air a sequence of whinnies and pleadings, the dogs, and the first taste of the new life came to Jenni as she rode out the measured beat of her ascension and a bump of fear, too, y’check me as she searched already the eyes of her own ranks for that yellow light, ambition’s pale gleam as she saw in the brightening sky at a slow fade the lost-time’s shimmer pass.
Last Sentence explained: This book culminates on the night of the August fair when Logan loses power to Jenni after a drawn out war. The final passage is Jenni contemplating her new role as leader and thinking of the lost-time’s fading. Macu has left Logan and he writes her a letter saying to meet him at midnight on the night of the August fair if they are to have a future together. Instead of Macu however, Girly shows up and we surmise she either tells him Jenni is taking over, or possibly, she kills him. Or maybe both. The book ends as a new era is being ushered in for the people of Bohane. It is hard to encapsulate all that is good about this book by summarising the plot alone. It is the entire snapshot of a city as a whole that beguiles and Barry’s incredibly fresh use of language which stays with you.