The novel marks the debut of Irish author Rory Gleeson
In February’s week for lovers, Newstalk’s resident bibliophiles were back in action for the first Eason Book Club of 2017, although the panel had to make do with Jonathan Healy sitting in as guest host on the Pat Kenny Show.
This time around, Katherine Lynch, Brian Kennedy and Mary O’Rourke were poring over Rockadoon Shore, the debut novel from Rory Gleeson, son of Brendan and brother of Domhnall and Brían,
“Let’s not mention his family,” Brian said, “I kinda get annoyed when people go on about people’s families. Never mind his family, we’re judging Rory Gleeson on Rory Gleeson, and nothing else.”
It was a sentiment shared by Mary O’Rourke. “I used to hate that too, when they’d go on about the Lenihans. ‘And she, the sister of...’”
Moving swiftly away from his roots and towards his writing, Katherine opened proceedings.
“Eh... I dunno,” she said. “I think that this guy is going to be a great writer, but I don’t think this is a great book. There’s a lot of problems with it, there’s too much in it. He shouldn’t have published this, it could have been his bible. He could have gone back to this and had 10 stories from it.”
The story centres around a group of young Irish men and women, who head off to Rockadoon Lodge, a remote cottage in the wilds of the west of Ireland. There, their friendship and misspent youth comes face to face with Malachy, an elderly neighbour who arrives at their front door brandishing a shotgun. Flitting from character to character and vantage point to vantage point, things don’t quite go to plan.
“I think Rory Gleeson really knows how to write assholes,” said Brian. “These people are assholes. I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t care about the characters,” he added.
“I had empathy for Malachy, I had empathy for him. You could understand exactly where he was, why he was there, why he behaved like he did.”
Mary was considerably more positive, saying: “I liked the book. I thought it was a good, joyful, bright book. Look it, they’re six witches. Put in a B and you know what I’m talking about. Each one of them is that. The characters are not developed, which is a bit of a shame.”
As ever, the Eason Book Club was joined on the line by another book club, this time represented by Rosari O’Brien, whose book club comprises a massive 14 members.
“We’re pretty well behaved, it works out okay,” she told Jonathan. “We usually take a few minutes to talk about the book. Then it’s gossip and chat and a catch-up.”
On Rockadoon Shore, Rosari’s book club was also split.
“A few of us really liked it. Some of the writing is beautiful in parts. But otherwise, like the panel, too many characters, very shallow, very self-obsessed. Not developed enough, so it was hard to like them. But like Brian was saying, it could have been Malachi’s story, that’s probably the book we’d have liked to read.”
Brian Kennedy will make the selection for March’s Book of the Month early next week, picking from one of these four Eason recommendations: Beatrice Colin’s To Capture What we Cannot Keep, Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers, Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, and Ronan Ryan’s The Fractured Life of Jimmy Dice.
Tune into the Pat Kenny Show next week or check out the website for details on which book Brian picks. And listen back to this week’s book club in the podcast below: