A Blasket bore - The Irish Times - Sat, Oct 13, 2012
The Islander is a book I read quite a long time ago. Pretty good read I thought. The guy had a pretty rugged life and the story was pretty well told overall I thought.
There are echoes of it in one of my favourite books ever, The Tree Of Man by Patrick White. Both explore very big themes with a great delicacy of touch.
There is a new edition out, which I haven't read, but Keith Ridgway has kindly reviewed it in the Irish (sic) Times for us.
I feel sorry for the Ridgway fella. He obviously seems to have picked up this book on the misunderstanding that the Islander in question was a Manhattan islander, a sort of Woody Allen character who would lay out his soul for us like it was an emotional grown up Topsy and Tim or something.
This review is depressing, less because of what it says about the Islander, which will stand on its own merits for many a long year yet, but about the kind of space contemporary Irish writing is occupying. It's simultaneously self-obssessed, embarassed, ossified, pyschotically insecure, toweringly snobbish and ideologically driven in the worst possible sense of that word.
On the rare occasion I read modern Irish writing I find my self hopelessly depressed about the state of it. Generally it's narcisscist, unreadable crap that won't last the decade.
It's almost a vindication of The Islander's quality that Ridgeway has reviewed it in these thumb-and-forefinger, pinch your nose type terms.