Author: Lisa McInerney
Publisher: Tim Duggan Books
Type of book: drugs, gangs, Ireland, church, giving up children, coming-of-age, sex, jail, family, father-son relationship, modern times, prostitution, beating up, violence, murder, choices, consequences, converting, Catholic church
Year it was published: 2015
One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland's post-crash society. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father Tony, whose obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family. Georgie is a prostitute whose willingness to feign a religious conversion has dangerous repercussions, while Maureen, the accidental murderer, has returned to Cork after forty years in exile to discover that Jimmy, the son she was forced to give up years before, has grown into the most fearsome gangster in the city. In seeking atonement for the murder and a multitude of other perceived sins, Maureen threatens to destroy everything her son has worked so hard for, while her actions risk bringing the intertwined lives of the Irish underworld into the spotlight . . .
Biting, moving and darkly funny, The Glorious Heresies explores salvation, shame and the legacy of Ireland's twentieth-century attitudes to sex and family.
Main characters include Ryan Cusack, a half Irish-half Italian boy who is the oldest son of an alcoholic father and also has five younger siblings. He has a long-term girlfriend and in beginning seems to be naive about the consequences his actions will have on his family. He sells drugs and at first is likable, sort of. But then things happen and he becomes an ugly person. Maureen is Jimmy's mother and seems to yin to his yang. Maureen has had a difficult past and seems to understand what Georgie is going through and also takes advantage of it. Georgie is a reformed sex worker who is stuck between a rock and a hard place, while Jimmy Phelan is in crime and is best friends with Ryan's father. He is brutish and hot tempered and dangerous. Ryan's father is alcoholic and feels helpless and takes advantage of the situation.
Life is harsh and impossible to dream about
The story is in third person narrative from Ryan's, Georgie's, and Ryan's father's point of view. Most of the book is written from Ryan's point of view, although other characters do butt in and tell their stories as well. There are also some small italicized chapters in first person narrative from Ryan's point of view. I have an idea of what happened in the story, but I have no idea how it should've been seen as darkly comedic or how all those events connected to one another. The story is mostly coming of age of Ryan Cusack while others seem to play small roles or parts in how Ryan grows up. It also spans years and strikes me as needlessly complicated. Also as well, Irish slang took away my enjoyment. (Honestly, if the audience is in America, maybe some resources to understand Irish slang, or at least some context clues please...)
(From book flap)
Lisa McInerney's first novel, The Glorious Heresies, won the 2016 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Desmond Elliot Prize, was shortlisted for Best Newcomer at the Irish Book Awards, and longlisted fort he Dylan Thomas Prize. Her short stories have been featured on BBC Radio 4 and in Granta, the Stinging FLy, and the anthologies The Long Gaze Back and Faber's Town and Country. Lisa lives in Galway with her husband, their daughter, and a dog named Angua
From goodreads reviews, I got an impression that this will be a hidden gem and that I will enjoy it. I really wanted to like it, to enjoy the dark humor enlaced within the pages, but I found the opposite happening: I read the book from cover to cover and realized that I had very little idea of what is going on, and instead of the book as dark comedy, it is dark, ugly and depressing. I have very little idea of what was going on except it deals with drugs, spans years and seems to be a coming-of-age story for Ryan Cusack, a half Irish-half Italian oldest son of an alcoholic father and a mother who has passed away. Ryan is also a drug dealer and has to face consequences for his choices just like his father, neighbor, girlfriend and others. Other occupants of the book, Maureen, Georgie, Maureen's son Jimmy and Ryan's father didn't play a big role, and even now I am still not sure what happened. Also, there is a lot of Irish slang in the book. Nothing against that, but if you don't know slang or aren't familiar with it, then its bound to take enjoyment away.
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2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)