cover image The Fabulists

The Fabulists

Philip Casey, Phillip Casey. Serif Publishing, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-897959-18-3

Irish poet and playwright Casey makes his fiction debut with this resolutely candid tale of extramarital love and obligation on the dole in contemporary Dublin. Separated from her pornography-addicted husband and emotionally capricious son, Tess sinks into squalor and despair, spending days and nights deliberating wistfully on the might-have-beens in her life. After a chance encounter with Mungo, also in a marriage bereft of affection since his son's near death in a house fire, Tess is intrigued by the man or, more precisely, by his spurious autobiography. When he contrives to meet her again, the two begin an affair based on the mutual spinning of tales devised to present the teller in a more alluring light. As the romance develops, the stories become increasingly intimate, hinting more directly at the unspoken circumstances of their lives. When family obligations pressure Mungo into moving far from Dublin, the lovers reluctantly become resigned to ending their relationship, but not before concluding the tales they began. Easily overcoming the potential pitfalls of the novel's bleak setting, Casey has created an involving, mature drama of a man and a woman struggling to endure profound personal disappointments. (June)