Saturday, August 14, 2010

For Review: Bad Day in Blackrock ~ Kevin Power

The nature of Kevin Power's novel is ubiquitous: young man killed after a drunken night out. So many times I hear similar stories being broadcast and it's always sad to hear about them. My reactions vary from a well-he-probably-had-it-coming to some-people-are-horrible-bullies. But although these events are central to the story, Bad Day in Blackrock is about much more.

The novel follows the narrator as he tries to figure out the circumstances surrounding Conor Harris' death, seeking to reach some kind of closure. As such, the story draws upon the lives of the three accused of manslaughter; part of Dublin's upper-middle class system of Ugg boots and rugby. Power allows the reader a frank view of these young people's lives. Having gone to Edinburgh University, it was amusing to completely understand at once what kind of world these people come from - Power's selection of details is acute. Other than Conor Harris and his friends, the novel deals with the families of those involved. Conor's singular death proves to have implications on so many lives; those close to both the victim and the 'criminals'.

The narrator is nameless for the most part of the novel which leads to a variety of questions; how reliable is he? how is he able to gain inside knowledge? These questions puzzled me thoroughout but eventually things fall into place to make sad sense. But the narrator stresses that there are still so many unanswered questions - there is no catharsis to this story, much as there is none to be had for the loved ones of any murder victim.

Bad Day in Blackrock is  presented almost as a portfolio of evidence. From the very start of the book the narrator claims just to be trying to figure out what really happened August 2004. Data is presented through anecdotes and stories: who was where, when and why? Who said what? Power's book isn't verbose and the writing is often very matter-of-fact. But it is this tone that sets the startling contrast to the horrors of the story. Told in vivid phrase yet presented as faithful truth, Bad Day in Blackrock is an engrossing and thought-provoking read.

Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing this read.

Finished 07 August.
Read on the train journey from Bunde to Cologne and back again.