Eureka Street: A Novel of Ireland Like No Other

Robert McLiam Wilson, Author
Robert McLiam Wilson, Author Arcade Publishing $23.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-55970-396-3
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-345-42713-7
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""All stories are love stories."" So begins the first American novel from Irish Book Award winner Wilson. How rare, though, for that emotion to be as unabashedly and enthusiastically expressed as it is here. Wilson clearly has grand intentions: a love story to a city set in a remarkable moment in history--Belfast in the months preceding and, briefly, following the first IRA cease-fire. His effort succeeds (mostly), because it grounds itself in the unremarkable lives of two buddies, Protestant Chuckie Lurgan and Catholic Jake Jackson, and their circle of friends. When Chuckie turns 30, he decides to make something of his life. He becomes a successful entrepreneur and falls in love with an American expatriate, Max. Jake is less settled; he works steadily in various blue-collar jobs (for which he is overqualified) and falls in and out of blustery love with several women. The chapters alternate between a third-person account of Chuckie and Jake's first-person narrative. The politics and history of the city are incorporated into these lives remarkably well: e.g., radio news reports and the mysterious graffito (""OTG"") that the characters try to decipher throughout the novel. Despite a satirical sensibility that favors broadness over poignancy, Wilson's sheer exuberance saves this winning story of two men and a community at odds with itself. (Oct.)
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