Wednesday, 11 November 2009
A State of Mind by Kevin Casey
Ireland of the welcomes?
Bestselling writer Bill Cromer and his sexy German girlfriend Ingrid move into Wicklow, in the heyday of the tax-free status for artists, when government action lured in millionaires to spend their money here.
And do they love it?
Up to a point. Cromer is a working-class Englishman who longs to be accepted by the county types living in Wicklow. But he has landed into the homeland of one O’Dalaigh, a still vividly anti-English hero of the War of Independence. Soon Cromer is getting visits from sinister men in trenchcoats.
Scary - does he flee?
No, because the sinister trenchcoated ones fail to make sure of who they’re talking to, and instead of threatening Cromer, they try to blackmail our narrator, ex-journalist John Hughes.
When are we?
In the 1970s, a time of bank robberies, the Ra and a word in your ear. And, of course, sex.
Sex! I was hoping you’d mention sex
Our narrator - bored with his matriarchal family - is eager to fling his marriage to the wind and bed Cromer’s mot, Ingrid, while doing some research for his novel at the same time.
Sounds like a plan. He’s the dashing hero?
Unfortunately, Hughes isn’t a very appealing hero. The character is flat and lacking in subtext, to be technical about it.
What happens with the Ra?
Hughes is coaching Cromer in books about history. He recommends Tom Barry’s My Fight for Irish Freedom with an airy “Completely unreliable, but it provides some insight into the O’Dalaighs of this world.”
After that - it’s kind of unclear. There’s a beating. There’s a tryst. There are misunderstandings. There’s a suicide. Hughes’ life with his wife and beloved daughter is in the balance.
Who’s Kevin Casey?
Married to poet Eavan Boland, he was one of the good writers of the 1970s, and has come back with a swing with this glumly comic story.