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Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane
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Reading in the Dark (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Seamus Deane

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8521710,449 (3.71)24
Member:Marcdunn
Title:Reading in the Dark
Authors:Seamus Deane
Info:Alfred A. Knopf (1997), Hardcover, 246 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane (1996)

  1. 10
    'Tis, a Memoir by Frank McCourt (PilgrimJess)
  2. 10
    The secret scripture by Sebastian Barry (Ciruelo)
  3. 00
    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (PilgrimJess)
  4. 00
    Candelo by Georgia Blain (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: Reading in the Dark: A Novel by Seamus Deane may be successfully paired for English Studies with Candelo by Georgia Blain.
  5. 00
    In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien (Ciruelo)
    Ciruelo: Both novels are told in fragments, setting is critical to the tone of each, and finally both deal with the themes of love, guilt, memory, truth, and murder.
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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
'Reading In The Dark' is a childhood story, and in many ways a coming-of-age story of an unnamed Irish boy. The main narrative features a family secret, of which everyone thinks they know the truth. Much of the secret remains obscured though, because of a wild variety of reasons. The most fascinating aspect of this book, however, was how it uses old family legend and regional folklore together with a more serious approach of issues like the Irish struggle for independence of thought. I especially enjoyed the family stories, which did not really serve a purpose in se, but were quite fascinating nonetheless.

It didn't take me long to finish the book, as it is rather short. I can't say I'd recommend it over other magnificent books of the world, but it was a rather pleasant and fairly rewarding read. ( )
  WorldInColour | Oct 12, 2013 |
An extraordinary book... see review under that name on Michalsuz's blog
http://awayofwriting.blogspot.co.nz/ ( )
  michalsuz | Mar 2, 2013 |
This book rather strikes me as a 'marmite' book, you will either love or hate it depending on your taste. However, it could also be desribed as an onion as it peels back differing layers revealing the conflicts that there are in all families, although in this case these are exasapated by the fact that the boy is a Catholic growing up in Northern Ireland with all it's sectarian divides. You see religious, political, familial,social and parent-child divides throughout but you also see that the decisions of the past can and do have effects on the present, and from one generation to the next. The narator is given a death-bed confession by his grandfather about an event concerning the boys own parents and this secret and the keeping of it ultimately drives a wedge between his relationship with both parents.

"Once and informer, always an informer," the Protestant policemen sneer.

'What could have possessed you to go running to those vermin? (police) Have you no self-respect, no pride?And if you've none for yourself, have you none for the rest of us?' This from his father.

This could easily been just another 'miserable Irish childhood' book akin to 'Angela's Ashes' but because of Deane's poetic background it raises it above that. And you can see that poetry running right the way through it with the effocative descriptions yet with the sparing use of words so that you feel none are wasted. The story is not all doom and gloom either as there also some very touching comic touches especially as a Catholic priest tries to give sex education to the boy. Deane uses language very cleverly to show the narators growing maturity from young innocent adolescent to more worldly wise youth.

This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and would really recommend ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 2, 2013 |
While Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark is a novel, it reads more like a typically bleak Irish memoir. What sets it apart is its structure, its narrator, and Deane's beautiful, melancholy prose. The story is unchronological, shifting erratically between episodes set in the 1940s to others set in the '50s, all of them linked by events and secrets from even earlier days before the narrator's birth. Deane's narrator, a sensitive, intelligent boy, is one of the middle children in a large Catholic family in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Unlike Frank McCourt's family (Angela's Ashes), they are not in dire financial straits, but the family is haunted by secrets--secrets that come between husband and wife, between sisters, and eventually, as the narrator unravels them, between mother and son.

Deane's story is full of the expected: a repressive Catholic education; ghosts on the staircase and in the graveyard; children dying of diseases now controllable; an aunt whose husband disappeared, leaving his pregnant new bride to raise their child alone; scrapes with the police; and always, always, the lingering Troubles. But here, the telling is even more striking than the story:

So broken was my father's family that it felt to me like a catastrophe you could live with only if you kept it quiet, let it die down of its own accord like a dangerous fire. Eddie gone. Both parents both dead within a week. Two sisters, Ena and Bernadette, treated like skivvies and living in a hen-house. A long, silent feud. A lost farmhouse, with rafters and books in it, near the field of the disappeared. Silence everywhere. My father knowing something about Eddie, not talking but sometimes nearly talking, signalling. I felt like we lived in an empty space with a long cry from him ramifying through it. At other times, it appeared to be as cunning and articulate as a labyrinth, closely designed, with someone sobbing at the heart of it.

A beautifully written novel about love, conscience, secrets, and legacy, highly recommended. ( )
3 vote Cariola | Sep 9, 2011 |
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The people were saying no two were e'er wed
But one had a sorrow that never was said.
'She Moved Through the Fair'
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On the stairs, there was a clear, plain silence.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375700234, Paperback)

The Derry of poet Seamus Deane's first novel, Reading in the Dark is a perilous place. Ghosts haunt the stairwells of apartment buildings, a curse follows two families down through the generations, close friends turn out to be police informers, and the police are as likely to persecute an innocent man as protect him. And hovering over all the violence, poverty, and despair of 1940s Northern Ireland is the specter of the "Troubles." The hero of the novel is an unnamed young man whose life turns upside down when a policeman frames him. Deception becomes his only means of self-defense. But the initial lie on the part of the policeman and the narrator's corresponding trickery are only part of the tangled web Deane weaves here. Early in the novel we learn that Uncle Eddie, an Irish Republican Army gunman, was blown up in the town distillery in 1922. In addition to sorting out his own problems, the narrator seeks the truth about his uncle's death.

Reading in the Dark sounds grim, and in some respects it is, yet leavening is provided by infusions of the Irish folktales and legends that inform the characters' daily life. And then there is the language. Deane is a poet, and his prose shows it: sex is like fire, "glinting with greed and danger"; ice snores and candles are swathed in a "thick drapery of wax." Readers looking for a thoughtful, serious, and beautifully written novel will find one in Reading in the Dark.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:19 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Seamus Deane's first novel is a mesmerizing story of childhood set against the violence of Northern Ireland in the 1940s and 1950s. The boy narrator grows up haunted by a truth he both wants and does not want to discover. The matter: a deadly betrayal, unspoken and unspeakable, born of political enmity. As the boy listens through the silence that surrounds him, the truth spreads like a stain until it engulfs him and his family. And as he listens, and watches, the world of legend - the stone fort of Grianan, home of the warrior Fianna; the Field of the Disappeared, over which no gulls fly - reveals its transfixing reality. Meanwhile the real world of adulthood unfolds its secrets like a collection of folktales: the dead sister walking again; the lost uncle, Eddie, present on every page; the family house "as cunning and articulate as a labyrinth, closely designed, with someone sobbing at the heart of it."Seamus Deane has created a luminous tale about how childhood fear turns into fantasy and fantasy turns into fact.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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