""Ulster. Hard. There's too intense a feeling there. Like you're living on a wire."" Like the rest of this sober if promising debut from Northern Irish writer (and now Manhattan resident ) McKinty, this tough sentence reflects bitter realities. In framing the story from the Protestant point of view, McKinty provides some keen insight on the Loyalist ethic. The narrative alternates between the gray boredom of an unnamed schoolgirl in a small seaside town just south of Belfast, and the escapades of her father, a psychopathic Protestant terrorist on the run from the authorities in New York. The man's hatred is long-engrained, and his brutality instinctual and cold-blooded. In the course of the book, we realize that he has tired of sectarianism and wants only to return home to see his child, who remains ignorant of his exploits. But the problem is that we never develop a real sympathy for either character: while the girl suffers the burden of a physical handicap, the details of her life are too mundane--and conveyed in difficult Irish slang--to engender empathy. Despite several flashbacks of her father as a confused teenager braving the riot-filled streets of Northern Ireland, we ultimately feel only repugnance for him, aware that when he was incarcerated after his original flight to the U.S., he ""ripped apart"" his cell mate in prison Finally, upon his eventual return to Northern Ireland, he carries out the knee-capping of a teenage Catholic boy. The last incident is so vile that even readers who have been unfazed to that point will probably flinch. Without a solid plot or sustained characterization, McKinty offers a harrowing depiction of hatred and violence that seems content merely to mirror Northern Ireland's troubles. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1981 Release date: 12/01/1981 Genre: Fiction
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