A Link with the Riverrs

Desmond Hogan, Author, Louise Erdrich, With
Desmond Hogan, Author, Louise Erdrich, With Farrar Straus Giroux $17.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-374-18461-2
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
``It had been an old custom in Ireland to drive at least one of your family out, to England, to the mental hospital, to the sea or to a bad marriage,'' says the narrator in one of the 25 stories in this stirring collection. Hogan, from the West of Ireland and just now reaching mid-career ( Children of Lir ), tells tale after tale about life in exiles both actual and imagined, and he does so in rich and supple language, unquickened by postmodern angst: ``Boris Cleary was thin, nervously thin, black-haired, a blackness smoothing the parts of his face which he'd shaved and the very first thing Magella noticed about him was a smell from the back of his neck, as from wild flowers lost in the deep woods. . . .'' Hogan is drawn to the marginal sites where crises of identity are in full flame--gypsies, gays, artists, the devout. In the book's most compelling story, ``A Poet and an Englishman,'' a tinker couple moves from ``dark and bloody'' Belfast to Kerry. She understands his wandering, his abused childhood, his bisexuality; he contains her fears with the tough confidence he has somehow mastered; both portraits are enriched with the mystery of real persons. Hogan's take on Ireland is not bitter; he doesn't forgive its parochialism but rather insists on the possibility of survival, although the links, via language and memory, to the many ``tributaries of childhood,'' remain. This is a rousing, provocative collection. (June)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!