Dunkles Herz Andrew OHagan

ISBN: 9783455057300

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Dunkles Herz  by  Andrew OHagan

Dunkles Herz by Andrew OHagan
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In literature, at least, most family sagas conform to a fairly simple pattern: rise and fall. Seldom, however, does this narrative arc take so concrete a shape as it does in Our Fathers. The hero of Andrew OHagans first novel has spent the postwarMoreIn literature, at least, most family sagas conform to a fairly simple pattern: rise and fall. Seldom, however, does this narrative arc take so concrete a shape as it does in Our Fathers.

The hero of Andrew OHagans first novel has spent the postwar era preaching the virtues of modern housing: Most of the high-rises on the west coast of Scotland were made, or inspired, out of Hugh Bawns zeal, and his tireless days as a housing boss. A priest of steel decking and concrete was Hugh. Yet the novel is narrated by this master builders grandson, Jamie, who happens to make his living as an urban demolition expert. More than once hes helped to tear down the very edifices his grandfather erected--setting off both literal and Oedipal explosions in the process.

Now, however, Hugh is on his deathbed, and Jamie has returned to Ayrshire to make peace with the old man. Not surprisingly, he also finds himself reckoning with the shadow of his father--a brutal drunk who managed to alienate three generations of the family in one go. As its title suggests, OHagans novel is primarily a meditation on paternity, which in Scotland, anyway, seems to amount to the kiss of death.To his credit, Jamie can hardly stand who he is, either: he senses that grief and weakness arent merely national conditions but human ones. And as Andrew OHagans mouthpiece, he attains some splendid rhetorical heights.

Yet his voice gets muffled, and sometimes silenced entirely, by the authors multigenerational ambitions. There are too many Bawns in this novel, too many tales, and too many miserable transactions between father and son. OHagans prose is perhaps worth the price of admission. Yet Our Fathers, like the Scots communities that Jamie so explosively reshapes, is itself a victim of excessive sprawl. --James Marcus



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