Monday, April 23, 2012

The End of the Beginning . . .

City of Bohane
Kevin Barry

Churchill made these words famous early in World War Two, but they apply as well to the final lines of chapter one in Kevin Barry's recent novel, City of Bohane, a scene in which the mastermind Logan Hartnett, who runs much of Bohane, has just heard that his old archnemesis is heading into town. Logan shows his nonchalance in dialogue with his bartender, Tommie the Keep:
'What'd take the cares off yuh, Mr Hartnett?'

Logan considered a moment. He let his eyes ascend to the stoically turning ceiling fan as it chopped the blue smoke of the room.

'Send me out a dozen of your oysters,' he said, 'and an honest measure of the John Jameson.'

The Keep nodded his approval as he set to.

'There ain't no point livin' it small, Mr Hartnett.'

'No, Tommie. We might as well elevate ourselves from the beasts of the fields.'

The Genesis allusion is nice, resonant with beguiling beginnings and fatal falls. The "beasts of the field" perhaps recalls the serpent, subtlest of the beasts of the field.

Temptation is coming to Bohane . . . and doubtless death.



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