The Engine of Owl-Light

Sebastian Barry, Author Carcanet Press, $18.5 (390p) ISBN 978-0-85635-704-6
Barry's first full-length work (he has previously published short stories) weaves six threads in time and space to create a mystical and poetic tapestry. In each chapter, six incarnations of what may be the same, eternal Irishman recall their history: a petty Irish chieftain recounts his struggle for power in bawdy Middle English; a young boy tells a lyrical tale of a sad and scary childhood; a neurotic young man describes his reunion with a Swiss girlfriend. More accessible and amusing are Oliver's Kerouac-ish travels across the U.S. and Moran's contemporary adventures in Key West. While some will find the episodic nature of this narrative difficult and sometimes impenetrable (the dialogue is often Joycean and opaque), patient readers will delight in the subtle and inventive language that echoes and pays homage to the author's literary Irish forebears and yet displays Barry's own certain talent. (September 30)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1987
Release date: 12/01/1987
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