"How, for the first time, he realized the difficulty of making a plan without McPhillip. ... His brain got all in a tangle and he could make a beginning nowhere."Hmm, maybe poverty, deprivation and bloodshed aren't the only reasons. Maybe Irish syntax has something to do with the occasional humorous effect of Irish English. Irish, according to Wikipedia, has no words for "yes" and "no," so must express negation in other ways. American or British English might express the boldface sentence above as "could not make a beginning" or "couldn't make a beginning anywhere."
"Could make a beginning nowhere" is structured like a little joke, the unexpected payoff ("nowhere") coming at the end, like a good punch line, working its magic by overturning the expectation generated by what had gone before. The context is not humorous, but the sentence still has a surprising effect. That's my theory, anyway. Now, talk me out of it.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010