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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The Story of the Night by Colm Tóibín 
21st-May-2006 09:47 am
Thought I'd try some more of his books. Though he is not the most ostentatiously talented contemporary Irish writer by any means, he's certainly an author to follow.

Tóibín, Colm. The Story of the Night. 1996. New York: Scribner, 2005.
Summary: This is the story of the half-English Argentinian Richard Garay as matures to a self-absorbed youth teaching English uninspiredly to a politically-aware man hobnobbing with American diplomats. He also finds true love in the form of one of his former student's younger brothers. In the end, the two discover that they both are dying of AIDS.
Comments: Though far less technically self-assured and elegant than The Master, I found this earlier novel to be more personable, evincing more untrammeled, heartfelt emotion. Perhaps the unwavering first-person narrative helped with that and made it easier to ignore uneven pacing. Though the setting and time period are quite different, this novel covers much the same thematic territory--alienation, death, the darkness of secrecy, and so forth. There is one particularly beautiful moment in the middle of the third part of the novel where Richard sees his lover in the light that was especially telling and had no counterpart in the story of the life of Henry James. Attempts to equate political oppression and burgeoning freedom with sexual liberation fit only uneasily together; Tóibín may have been having trouble convincing himself. Of course, many parts of this novel sported an almost journalistic precision (and unadorned, even American-sounding(!) English prose) as it recounts the events of Richards life...which, if you do not take into account that the author himself spent time in Argentina as a journalist, at times seems incongruous because Richard is, throughout the novel and in many different ways, so naive.
Notes: trade paperback, 1st printing
Rating: 7/10 - Even though this novel falls short of what must have been grand author ambitions, there is quite a lot of substance here, which means something for everyone.
31st-May-2006 07:17 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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