Acts of Subversion

Liz McManus, Author Poolbeg Press $14.95 (236p) ISBN 978-1-85371-124-4
This searing first novel is set in Galway in the 1970s. Oran Reidy's life is upended by the Derry Massacre, in which demonstrators-turned-rioters were murdered by British soldiers. Raised on his mother's songs and stories of the Irish heroes of the 1916 Easter Rising, Oran, a young college student, is mesmerized by television images of the carnage and joins the IRA. Nationalism burns away all other emotions. Events are further complicated when Oran takes a handyman's job with Jane O'Molloy. Her wealth and bourgeois apoliticism stand in sharp contrast to his working-class background and revolutionary ideals. Still, she is attracted to him and intrigued by his terrorist life. Ultimately, a strike and an arson plot against her lover's factory shatter their bonds. Oran feels used and betrayed by both Jane and the cause he had espoused. Freed from these two emotional anchors, he is cast adrift on uncharted and unsafe seas. For McManus, Oran represents Ireland in microcosm, torn between a gloriously remembered past and the stark reality of an economically dislocated and aimlessly terrorist present, victimized as much by the IRA as by the British. (July)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1991
Release date: 12/01/1991
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