Long Time, No See - Dermot Healy

Genre: Irish/Fiction
Synopsis: 'Long Time, No See' introduces us to the unforgettable world of Mister Psyche. In the coastal townland of Ballintra in Ireland, recent school-leaver, occasional worker, full-time companion and Malibu-provider to Uncle Joe-Joe and his friend, the Blackbird, Psyche is a boy on the cusp of adulthood, undone by a recent traumatic event.


Review: While this novel was beautifully written, that's largely all I can say for it. It was so beautifully written that it was still enough of a pleasure to read that I can say I actually liked it, even though it was a bit of a slog towards the end and I couldn't wait to finish it. I'm glad I've read it, but I'll never read it again - it's one of those sorts of book. Also look at that cover - isn't that gorgeous?

I'm not sure whether the story is some big allegory or metaphor for something, whether there's any bigger picture meant to emerge from the sum total of the individual events and interactions, but if there is, it was utterly lost on me. Maybe there was no greater purpose, and I'm okay with that sometimes, in a book, if the journey of reading it is a satisfying one in and of itself. While reading the book, especially initially, was somewhat enjoyable, it wasn't a satisfying read. I found the characters fairly lifeless - the 'relationship' beween Psyche and his alleged girlfriend Anna is basically non-existent, the apparent untimely death of Psyche's friend (before the book begins) has no apparent impact on him. Perhaps the other characters are only rendered lifeless through his emotional detachment - I do feel there could have been a good story surrounding his uncle and uncle's friend, but it was hardly touched upon.

There is a tendency in Irish writing to be poetic and lyrical, I think i's just in our nature, but only some authors can pull it off well. Additionally, as seems to be common in lyrical Irish novels, there was a needless exclusion of speech punctuation marks. This was also the case in he Black Snow, another lyrical Irish novel I recently read and loved, so I'm not sure why it grates on me in some books and not others. I haven't been put off reading anything else by Healy - maybe this book just didn't resonate with me. But I wouldn't recommend it either I'm afraid.

Rating: 3/5

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