Nor will those seeking a pertinent fable of a contemporary or future Ireland feel much rewarded [...] Indeed, there's no trace here of an Ireland with which any reader might be familiar -- the action might just as well be set in an imagined Scotland or Wales or wherever.Call me a demented ex-pat, but I wasn't aware that the Irish writer had a particular responsibility to write such a 'pertinent fable'. Is there really this social obligation that you're bound to honour by virtue of Irish citizenship that doesn't apply to Scottish, Welsh, English, American or French writers, or artists in whatever medium from whatever country? Surely not every literary work, by virtue of its being set in a specific geopolitical or cultural zone, has to produce a sociological treatise on the past or current state of that, well, state? Bah, I say. That's such a limitation. I think there might possibly be a dearth of portraits of contemporary Ireland in current fiction - or maybe not a dearth, but a critical and promotional focus on works that deal with the past rather than the present, to the detriment of what's being produced at the moment about the present moment, but that's a different issue. To imply that Barry's fucked it up because he's writing a crazy speculative crime novel rather a grittily realistic portrait of, I don't know, gang life in Limerick in 2009 - well, isn't that the reviewer's hangup, not Barry's?
Okay, and second (and this is most of the final paragraph of the article, so it really leaves a bad taste in the mouth):
Barry has a remarkable talent, as is evident from his short stories, but a novel requires particular qualities -- a satisfying structure, a mastery of the long, developing narrative and complex characters of psychological and emotional depth -- that aren't essential, or sometimes even required, in the shorter form.So the short story doesn't require a satisfying structure? It might utilize a different sort of structure than the novel, but you can hardly say that it doesn't need a satisfying one. And complex characters aren't essential or sometimes even required in the short story? Oh, shoot me now.
Well, so I have ranted quite a bit. But I'd love to hear your thoughts on either of these issues, whether you've read Barry's book or not.