“In October there were yellow trees.”
A SLIM slice of rural Ireland, from not so long ago. You might see this as an addendum to the bigger Irish politics covered in Fintan O’Toole’s We Don’t Know Ourselves.
It is short, moving, laden in tension, possibilities, narrative, beautiful description, but also in getting underneath the covers with the girls of Billy Furlong’s small young family, and his own fears. As the local coal and timber merchant Furlong gets about on his deliveries.
Sentences are crisp. Each chapter opener more a poem: “Furlong had come from nothing.” “Christmas was coming”. “It was a December of crows”. You might want to put the kettle on and make a cup of tea before reading on too far, such are the Dickensian, dramatic vibrations.
At 110 pages, it is a short book to be listed for the Booker Prize, Keegan has focussed on short stories so far rather than novels, but no harm in that if it brings people back to reading, if only for being more accessible. “A story needs to be as long as it needs to be,” she has been quoted as saying. Here there is hardly a word out of place. Her earlier work Foster has been slated for a film as the Quiet Girl. Masterly.
I would offer a bit more detail but… spoiler spoiler spoiler…father, father, father.