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High Ground

By (author) John McGahern
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Faber & Faber, London, United Kingdom
Published: 2nd Sep 1985
Dimensions: w 140mm h 220mm
ISBN-10: 0571136818
ISBN-13: 9780571136810
Barcode No: 9780571136810

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Kirkus US
McGahern's stories remain problematic: his aim seems to be to faithfully render the inertia, the texturelessness of days, dramas of living so small that they register as mere whim or mood. To do this, though, he's forced into writing without climax or any staginess - and, in short forms especially (his 1980's collection, Getting Through, had the same flavor), this can make for very drab fiction. There are indications, however, of some straining at the dun fabric: "A Ballad" - the nonsequential inconsequences of a bunch of Dublin bar cronies - has a certain shaggy drape to it that's appealing; and "The Conversion of William Kirkwood" - a Protestant aristocrat, the last of his line, yearning for more contact with those Catholics around him (to bad effect) - has bite as well as inexorability. But too much else seems tied to the initial premises of its portraiture: a reunion of ex-schoolmates, the wreckages of their dreams brought along ("High Ground"); a breath-held sexual encounter, love just slipping from grasp ("Like All Other Men"); the unstable gentrification of Irish nostalgia ("Old-fashioned"). McGahern is an "intimist" - but the stories, by rarely surprising, seem to little reward such tight-in peering. (Kirkus Reviews)