Log in

No account? Create an account
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
A Son Called Gabriel by Damian McNicholl 
19th-Jun-2006 02:22 pm
This month's bibliobibules reading selection. Looks like I might have some explaining to do... T_T

McNicholl, 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 edition
Rating: 4/10 - 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.
19th-Jun-2006 06:37 pm (UTC)
Ugh. sounds dire.

I really enjoy seeing you rip into books like this.
19th-Jun-2006 06:48 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you appreciate the effort. >_< I've had the authors themselves stop by on occasion and trying ripping into me after I write stuff like this...
19th-Jun-2006 07:04 pm (UTC)
I thought the ending pretty much sucked really ^^;; Not only was it kind of lame, but the whole story seemed very rushed towards the end, if you know what I mean...
19th-Jun-2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
Like even the author himself was thinking, "Oh, get this overwith already!"...? Yeah...
19th-Jun-2006 07:16 pm (UTC)

That's it exactly... And even before that, there seemed to be huge gaps in the timeline.. I also had to roll my eyes at times, as someone who presumably was trying to squash his attraction to men and wasn't attracted to women always seemed to be in a sexual situation with one or the other ^^ Is it really so difficult to avoid sex??
19th-Jun-2006 11:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, waitaminute--define "huge gaps." I thought, if anything, he was documenting the years with agonizing slowness. Another year older, another year of bullying. *rolls eyes*
19th-Jun-2006 11:53 pm (UTC)
I think it's like he'd be going on in agonizing slowness without it actually leading to anything, and then all of a sudden it's two or three years later ^^;;
20th-Jun-2006 02:20 am (UTC)
*nods* Yeah. It was a coming of age story that never completely "arrived." Somehow, the novel-long problem of being "the gay son" being solved by the revelation that he isn't actually "the son" doesn't cut it for me. :P
1st-Jul-2006 01:40 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
This page was loaded Jul 19th 2018, 2:56 pm GMT.