Manafonistas

on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2019 10 Sep

Some of John Quin’s Notes on Night Boat To Tangier

von: Manafonistas Filed under: Blog | TB | No Comments

In his latest novel, Kevin Barry is rigorous on his homeland more generally:  Fucking Ireland. Its smiling fiends. Its speaking rocks. Its haunted fields. Its sea memory. Its wildness and strife. Its haunt of melancholy. The way that it closes in.

Musical references abound. Maurice and Charlie have taste; they can’t be having Radiohead: Never liked them. Whining bastards. And the amount of money the cunts are making? They should have the ukuleles out.

In tone Night Boat to Tangier shares something with the Pixies album Surfer Rosa: a lurching, crunching, Hispanic threat of heaviness, Spain with its “old, tatty charisma”. The band is duly referenced elsewhere. Barry’s laconic descriptions dazzle: at a psychiatric hospital we see an avenue lined with trees, larches that are parenthetically described thus – (primly erect, arrogant as surgeons). We are in high Nabokovian (picnic, lightning) territory here. Elsewhere we are told brilliantly “the last few taxis drifted as stoically as cows”. And in the ferry port we find “the quick gabbling ham-eater mouths are silky-greasy in the hard terminal light.” Finally in a detail common to the hell of such places:

There is crazy fucking denim everywhere.

Night Boat to Tangier is hymn to Spain and Cork and SE Hinton and the loneliness of men who like Hank Williams and much more. Kevin Barry’s writing here has the brisk allusive power of those early Michael Ondaatje books like Coming Through Slaughter. There’s a similar pacing, lines as loaded and hidden as a landmine that call a sudden halting and then impact in the head with their dizzying fragments. You feel fragged. You are made to feel the pain of the pair, to empathize sometimes against your better judgement, just as in real life, and yet laugh too at their lunacy, their sad predicament. As with encounters with the staggeringly inebriated strangers you escape, enervated, a tad fried, and with a sigh of relief that theirs is not your life.

This entry was posted on Dienstag, 10. September 2019 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. You can leave a response here. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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