Review: A Son Called Gabriel

A few things have been hampering my ability to get words down out of the cranium. Before I forget, thanks to everyone who wished me a happy day of exiting (no, not exciting) the womb. I’ve tried my best to say my thanks to each one of you lovelies, but I think I’ve missed one (or twelve), my apologies. I received my first ever, wish-list present: the pages read and re-read, scribbled, dog-eared and lovingly snuggled to sleep. Dearest long-lost twin, thank you very muchly. I can’t put it into words that’d do it justice, perhaps after I’ve dusted the cobwebs and wisps of cotton from my head.

In the meantime, I’ll just stick this old review up.
A Son Called GabrielA Son Called Gabriel
by Damian McNicholl (2004)

Backcover said, ‘Evoking a sense of time and place as compelling as Angela’s Ashes and At Swim, Two Boys, and the courageous spirit of Billy Elliot . . .’ Should’ve known better: After all, praises for At Swim, Two Boys has already made me wonder if reviewers know any other Irish writers than Joyce. Aside from the fact that A Son Called Gabriel is set in Ireland (but in the 60s-70s) and the main character is struggling with the issues of homosexuality (among others), it doesn’t ‘evoke’ anything that remotely reminds me of At Swim, Two Boys. Frankly I think it’s rather… flat? It’s an easy read, one that you can easily finish in a few hours, and—having grown in a strictly Catholic family (and Catholic school) myself—I can somewhat relate to the ‘loving’ but stifling atmosphere. It has some good moments, but nothing memorable.

And you bundled-up folks in Melbourne, your promised packages will be sent come the afternoon. I’m sure the paperbag will make a nifty, crackling bonfire.

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