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on June 19, 2013 :
Tom O'Brien's autobiographical book The Shiny Red Honda is a witty blend of nostalgia, humour and hard-necked survivalism set in rural Ireland in the mid 20th century.
Tricks and games, and childish and often crude attempts to grow into the weird world of the fervently Catholic Irish community as a youngster describes the author's early story through the school years.
Volatile school-teachers instil a variety of traits and learned tactics for both appeasing and anatagoning all and sundry, and the relationship between Church, school and home are intimately close and often merged.
As a boy in the country, O'Brien gives us splendid insights into the natural world through his observations of wild animals and the subtle effects of the seasons on his immediate environment.
Looming beyond his homestead, the constantly changing view of the Comeragh mountains is something Tom refers to and takes us on a tour with him. The rural lifestyle demanded hard work and struggles to make ends meet.
A wonderful story about a pig being readied for the chop - so to speak - results in an unusual way of finding the bacon. Other amusing stories revolved around his places of work, and also the local dances in search of female companionship and enlightenment into the mysteries of love.
His time with the Royal Dukes band holds many stories of young men chancing their arms to succeed.
Altogether a feel-good story, told in the amusing O'Brien way with a twinkle in the eye; a story of its time realistically delivered without rose-tinted glasses and fairy dust.
(review of free book)