This month's bibliobibules
reading selection. Looks like I might have some explaining to do... T_TMcNicholl, Damian. A Son Called Gabriel. New York: CDS Books, 2004.Summary
: Gabriel Harkin endures boyhood bullying, insults to his masculinity, and his father's disappointment while personally striving to reconcile Catholicism with homosexual desire. Ultimately, he discovers that he is adopted and leaves Northern Ireland for London and study of law.Comments
: Comparing this novel to At Swim, Two Boys
is like comparing Spam to prosciutto--and I didn't even like O'Neill's magnum opus all that much, either! Nothing, but nothing, strikes me as original or even particularly remarkable here; Gabriel's religious torment is silly given the modern setting (Quentin Crisp is having his day in the sun while Gabriel's still living in the Dark Ages), and the classic academic triumph in the wake of peer abuse is a typical first novel conceit...the author, for whom at least some of this, given the biographical sketch on the back flap, has got to be autobiographical, is indulging in a base "I'm better than they are!" vindictive streak. How predictable. How boring. Oh, and ANOTHER pedophile priest! Woo hoo. Might as well be an Irish rite of passage for how often it comes up in the literature these days. And I was likewise disappointed by the novel's pathetically flat prose. Gabriel, despite his angst about his accent, speaks in perfect, unremarkable, standard English, and the literary music that other contemporary Irish authors such as Patrick McCabe use so effectively is totally lost on McNicholl. But worst of all has got to be the ending. As if adoption is going to explain why Gabriel never fit in! Or explains anything of any issue of importance treated in this novel whatsoever. Plus, now he has an "excuse" to divorce his family. Whadda lame excuse for a resolution.Notes
: hardcover, 1st editionRating
- I'm sorry I bought this book, and I'm even more sorry that I inflicted it on my friends by putting it on the list in the first place. Mea culpa.