Friday, June 28, 2013

Occasional Irregularity

I've read lots of descriptions of men who spend too much time in bars. If you read crime fiction, you have, too. Here's how Kevin McCarthy handles the motif in Chapter One of his novel Irregulars:
"...a Player's Navy Cut burning down in his fingers, a fairy mound of shredded betting slips in front of him on the bar, five or six pints in an afternoon and sometimes more of an evening. Not doing the dog on it, as the saying does, but supping enough to damp down the nightmares that still come to him, even now, in his new life as a conscript in Dublin's vast army of thrifty, jobless bachelors. It is an army marching on bacon sandwiches, tinned stew and beans heated on single-ring gas burners in damp digs and back bedrooms; an army barracking in pubs and betting shops; convalescing in the Carnegie library, weary foot-soldiers obliterating the days and hours alongside snuffling, time-killing comrades."
That's nice, isn't it, the sympathetic, though lightly mocking invocation of the military perhaps hitting especially hard given the novel's setting in Dublin in 1922, around the outbreak of the Irish Civil WarIrregulars could be one of those crime novels, along with Carlo Lucarelli's De Luca novels or McCarthy's own Peeler, or, if you consider it crime, Ronan Bennett's Havoc in its Third Year, that tell a fine story while making you feel the history in your bones.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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