The Dark Author:John McGahern Widely acclaimed, yet infamously banned, "The Dark" is John McGahern's sensitive, perceptive, and beautifully written portrayal of a young man's coming-of-age in rural Ireland. Imaginative and introverted, the boy is successful in school, but bitterly confused by the guilt-inducing questions he endures from the priests who should be his venerate... more »d guides. His relationship with his bullying, bigoted, widowed father is similarly conflicted -- touched with both deep love and carefully suppressed hatred. When he must leave home to further his education, their relationship is drawn to an emotional climax that teaches both father and son some of the most intricate truths about manhood.
"McGahern brings us the tonic gift of the best fiction, the sense of truth - the sense of transparency that permits us to see imaginary lives more clearly than we see our own." --John Updike
"[McGahern] writes with a poignancy and passion. He has been likened to the early Joyce, and he has the same spare artistry." --Spectator
"We must know that while we read this book, an experience much like touching the raw nerves of a growing boy, we are in the company of a very talented writer." --Library Journal
"The best novel to come out of Ireland for many years." - Irish Times« less
This book was aptly titled! It was dark indeed, at times oppressively so. I had a hard time sticking with it and probably would have abandoned it entirely except for the fact that it was set in Ireland - one of my favorite places to go in a book. In this case most of the action took place in a rural Irish village sometime in the middle of the 20th century (I think!)and centered around the plight of a young boy and the decisions he was trying to make about his future. It was especially complicated for him because of his troubling relationship with his widowed,abusive father and his conflicted feelings about whether or not to become a priest or continue his schooling in pursuit of a university scholarship. What kept me reading had less to do with the plot or the characters or the setting. Rather, it was McGahern's interesting way of switching the narrative voice from the third person to the second person to the first person. I'm guessing it had to do with mood and the thematic elements that were interwoven throughout the novel, however I have to admit I wasn't interested enough to pay close enough attention in order to get the full effect.