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scottdpomfret

Seanachie: A Boston Irish Storyteller and Part-Time Shaman

Books about place, magic, Faeries, Ireland, sex, God, and love

Currently reading

New Orleans as It Was
Charles "Pie" Dufour, Henry C. Castellanos
New Orleans after the Civil War
Justin A. Nystrom
Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland (complete: First & Second Series)
Isabella Augusta Persse (Lady Gregory)
Bright Dead Things: Poems
Ada Limon
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Mark Manson
Desire: Poems
Frank Bidart
Selected Poems 1976-2012
Jorie Graham
An Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry
Wes Davis (Editor)
I Am An Executioner: Love Stories
Rajesh Parameswaran
An Artist of the Floating World
Kazuo Ishiguro

Atrocity Porn

The Little Red Chairs - Edna O'Brien

It’s not a spoiler to say this novel ends with a stirring and poetic image: voices in 35 languages singing the word home in a harmonious chorus. The remainder of the novel, however, is a series of harrowing and dismal accounts of human cruelty, many of them with origins in the conflicts in the various Balkan states. These accounts, rendered by characters with distinct voices, lost their distinction over the course of the novel by virtue of their repetition and eventually blend into one long painful numbing tale. Moreover, they seem to serve no narrative purpose -- a kind of atrocity porn.

 

The novel starts off well enough: a articulate and handsome stranger named Vlad appears suddenly in a small Irish town proposing to open shop as a sex therapist until the local priest and bishop persuade him to proclaim himself a healer instead. One of the local married women fall for him and becomes pregnant. The remainder of the town is equally smitten until a few strange occurrences make them begin to suspect the stranger is not who he says he is. When his identity is uncovered, there is an episode of violence that triggers the avalanche of accounts of atrocities that make up the remainder of the novel.