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on Jan. 29, 2013 :
The Missing Postman and Other Stories by Tom O'Brien
The Missing Postman and Other Stories by Waterfordman Tom O’Brien
delivers a kaleidoscopic view of life in rural Southern Ireland. Recollecting and reflecting upon the hard times of the era-predominantly the 1960s - these are tales of Irishmen home and away.
The title story is possibly the strongest with revelations coming thick
and fast from a very unlikely mix of characters, with more twists and
turns than a bucket of vipers - and just as dangerous.
Throughout, Tom explores in his tales the curse of the Irish emigrant,
'you can never go back', that once exiled, Irishmen and women find that they haven't settled properly in exile and find home too strange to feel 'at
Finding employment as casual subbies in England, working to drink and
gambling on anything that moved and generally living as outlaws looking
over their shoulders, and adopting transient lifestyles describes the
themes of the other stories; of Blondie and Johnjo and their colourful
antics plaited in with their regrets and longing for home.
The Homecoming combines the harsh realities of life in olden days with
poignant naivety and vulnerability.
Brendan Behan's women is set initially in New York, and allows us to
peep into Tom's version of the man in his latter days, belligerent,
blocked and broke. This tale depicts the writer in strife when his two
worlds collide; his wife and his mistress. An almost comic element in
this story is the fact that both women are pregnant with his babies,
after years of barrenness in his marriage.
(review of free book)
on Oct. 26, 2012 :
Tom O'Brien is the one of the most prolific and important Irish writers living today. Don't miss this stunning collection of short stories written with grit and humour as always. His greatest gift is his characters' dialogue, rich and evocative of the disillusioned Irish emigre and the tortured Catholic soul. Up there with Behan as the voice of a generation. I thoroughly enjoyed these stories and can't recommend this volume highly enough.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)