Himself : A Novel by Jess Kidd

HimselfThe circumstances of truth and the supernatural turn a small Irish town on its ear when a stranger arrives to town wanting answers.

Mahony, a youngish man of long hair and fine looks, comes calling from Dublin in the spring of 1976 and ingratiates himself among the locals of Mulderrig, a town at the end of nowhere.  He takes a room at the town’s dilapidated bed and breakfast and makes fast friends with one Merle Cauley, an elderly ex-actress who has been living at the B & B for eons.  She picks up quickly on Mahony’s talents, not just as a charmer, but as one who can see and converse with the dead.

Mahony’s visit is a homecoming of sorts – it seems that his mother was the town shame,  an errant teenager from years ago who had him out-of-wedlock, and then promptly disappeared.  Mahony then grew up in a Dublin orphanage, and had no connection of her other than a tattered photograph that he recently got from a priest associated with the orphanage.

As Mahony and Mrs. Cauley pry for clues about his mother, it’s soon apparent that someone wishes they wouldn’t pry so much.  Certain villagers, initially friendly, are not so much anymore, and an occasional unnerving happening is enough for the two to hesitate with their search.

But the dead are becoming more vivid to Mahony, and some of them need their stories told.

Himself is a murder mystery in places, a picaresque lark in others.  Amidst the scary elements there is sheer glee.  The book itself is a laughing finger pointed at small town life, where the fear of the unknown mixed with dark secrets propel all involved to an uneasy future, and perhaps some sort of redemption.

Kidd’s ghosts are playful, bawdy, and profane, a sort of Greek chorus to their living counterparts.  Most say very little; it’s in their actions where the humor kicks in.

There are lots of shifts in time and narration, so be prepared for this.  Aside from these quirks, and lots of Irishisms in the dialogue, Himself is a rollicking book.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

 

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One Response

  1. I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did – I thought the magic realism was handled really well.

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