PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Colm Toibin on Thom Gunn's Letters Allice Hiller and Sasha Dugdale in conversation David Herman on the life of Edward W. Said Jena Schmitt on Hope Mirrlees Brian Morton: Now the Trees
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This review is taken from PN Review 53, Volume 13 Number 3, January - February 1987.

BARRICADES Dermot Healy, Banished Misfortune (Allison & Busby) £6.95
Dermot Healy, Fighting with Shadows (Allison & Busby) £8.95

Dermot Healy was in his early twenties when sectarian violence returned to Ulster. What many Irish people bleakly and matter-of-factly call the War has now been in progress for nearly half his lifetime. Prolonged crises after a while begin to assume an air of permanence, and those most affected are forced to accommodate themselves to the new situation if they are to survive. Accommodation - and the failure of it - is a theme Healy returns to again and again in his first two works of fiction.

Banished Misfortune is a collection of twelve short stories, mostly about the raw, stubborn lives of the working-class in contemporary Ireland. In 'The Curse', a young boy is persuaded to insult a barmaid in return for the illusory promise of riding his temptor's racehorses. On one level, the story deals with a theme beloved of short story writers: the corruption of innocence. But with characteristic lack of sentimentality, Healy also makes the story into a comment on the age-old exploitation of the Irish by the English. 'The Tenant', a tale about a bank-clerk taking up a new posting, is a quiet, restrained piece of work which demonstrates its author's ability to recreate the atmosphere of a small Irish country town. 'Blake's Column', unusually for Healy, has as its central character someone who is self-consciously an intellectual, albeit a bitter one, rotted by his own sense of failure. Some of the stories in the book are overcompressed, the language dense and ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image