City of Bohane.

Author:Carter, Trina
Position:Book review

Kevin Barry (author); CITY OF BOHANE; Graywolf Press (Fiction: Literary) $25.00 ISBN: 9781555976088

Byline: Trina Carter

Bohane may be a made-up place, or it may be based on an actual crossroads "out the tip-end o'" Ireland, but it's already on the literary map of fine writing. With City of Bohane, Kevin Barry makes landscape as much a presence as any of the characters.

And what an odd, troubling, endearing lot they are: there's Martin Broderick, known as the Gant, a big, hard, but gentle relic of a man; there's Logan Hartnett, referred to as the Long Fella, a tall albino with an air of wasted elegance; and there's Macu, a green-eyed vixen and the love of both men's life. Around this "good auld tangle o' romance" swirl plots of revenge as the city of Bohane prepares for "a succession ruck."

The blood feud brewing between the Northside Risers and the Back Trace preoccupies the characters and their sidekicks. Much like West Side Story, with the Jets and the Sharks, these Irish lads are of a piece with the bogs and gorsey wilds of the Big Nothin' that has kept the western peninsula cut off from the world beyond. People obey whoever rules the Back Trace, an evil labyrinth of streets filled with grog shops, noodle joints, fetish parlors, needle alleys, dream salons, and power haunts.

At the moment, it's Logan who holds sway over the Hartnett Fancy. Set in the futuristic 2054, it could just as easily be 1954...

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