The Blackwater Lightship

Colm Toibin, Author Scribner Book Company $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-684-87389-3
One of the young Turks of Irish fiction (The Heather Blazing; The Story of the Night) again examines themes of loss and death in a novel, shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In clipped, stripped-down prose, T ib n unfolds the family saga of Helen, mother Lily and grandmother Dora, three generations of women whose estrangement is ended by the grief they share. Helen's brother, Declan, is dying of AIDS. Helen receives the news of Declan's illness from Paul, her brother's best friend. Unlike her mother or grandmother, Helen has known for years that Declan is gay, but he has kept his illness a secret, even from her. Declan sends Paul to fetch Helen to the hospital, where he asks her to tell their mother and grandmother about his condition. Declan wants them all to spend a few days together at Granny's seaside house in Cush, Wexford. Years ago, Declan and Helen stayed there while Lily attended to their father, who was dying in a hospital in Dublin. Larry, another friend, completes the cast of characters surrounding Declan during his decline. T ib n has not written a ""dying of AIDS"" story here. Instead, by focusing on the relationships of those around Declan, he has created a delicately powerful story of a family's failure to face difficult feelings and their stubborn refusal to admit need. The novel does not take a flamboyant tone, but instead keeps faith with the quiet power of everyday life to imbue its straightforward prose with the essence of drama. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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FORMATS
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7710-8561-1
Hardcover - 273 pages - 978-0-330-38985-3
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7432-0331-9
Hardcover - 978-0-7710-8559-8
Paperback - 280 pages - 978-0-7710-8557-4
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