Thursday, December 26, 2013

Red Sky in Morning

Here's Red Sky in Morning, a novel of 275 pages that you won't be able to put down, so it feels right.  It comes in under 300 pages--just the right length of a winter read, with a glass of brandy at your side and a cat purring. It got a favorable review from Alan Cheuse on NPR, but for me it was the first paragraph that nailed it to the barn door--no, not paragraph--first sentence:  "Night sky was black and then there was blood, morning crack of light on the edge of the earth."
Right away, I knew I was in Seamus Heaney territory, with an Irish author named Paul Lynch who cared about every single utterance and probably read each one aloud--and I found out he did, in an interview, and that he composed, if you could call writing this shivery prose in long, breathless sentences composing, while listening to jazz.
But the plot, it was tight with rage (if I can steal one of his phrases). Set first in Donegal, 1832,bad things happen to a poor Irishman with family, but mostly to Coll's brother who's quickly caught by an evil bossman for a crime his Coll committed. Coll Coyle.  Even his name feels tight.  Like everything else that happens here, which I won't reveal.
Paul Lynch is a comer, splendid with his leafy prose scattering in every direction but always holding you to the page.
Read it.
--Russell Thorburn, Poet Laureate of the Upper Peninsula

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