The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: Realistic fiction, Recipe for Awesomesauce
There was a spinning heart on the gate at the front of their house, a mocking symbol, Bobby’s rough cross.
This book was spectacular. Sad, despondent but spectacular. It’s reminiscent of Winesburg Ohio, but very different, because it’s more of a look at prejudices and progress; life in a situation, in a time, in a community. It isn’t life itself, but the sad part of it as seen in a time of recession and the communal attitudes. The story is centered; there are mystery elements and whodunnits much later on, but the book remains focused on telling these stories.
The multitude of voices have something to say, and they skirt around the glue joining them together; there is a need to find the perpetrators, yet there’s no urgency that the story looks to evoke in us. Reader already knows who did the killing and the abducting, so it’s on the periphery. Sadness isn’t about the death or abduction; it’s in the condition, the way of living. And it makes one think, is it situational? Had it not been for the climate, they’d be happy or, at least, content? Maybe, maybe not.
I wanted to frighten someone, anyone, so I would’t be the only one feeling this way.
I just wanted him to remember how he loved me.
How come I can’t be like everyone thinks I am? I’d love to really be Seanie Shaper. I’d love to not be here again, sitting looking at that water.
I feel real sad when he says that because I don’t want to go to school and leave my daddy all sad without me and it’ll be no good watching Pegga Pig without me. How’s it daddied can’t come to school anyway?
This is grief of life, of living, of a country fucked-up, of constant rains.
So many voices, they make you empathize. For one, for two, until you read the third and you start to see everything through glasses with wider range. Perspective plays an important role in the story; it keeps changing and as such, the characters you view keep changing their colors, or rather, you start seeing them in varying colors. The only character steady enough in his reputation is Bobby Mahon, the protagonist, of sorts. He’s the boy they wish they had, he’s the husband they want, the man they hope to be.
Yet, in one genius move, Donal Ryan brings us to this rock of a man, inside his mind, with his words, his own fears, longing, desperation, faults he sees in him, the things he can’t see and though, he’s who they say he is, he’s so much more crippled inside than anyone can believe. In another, Ryan ends with his wife, Triona’s words, the person closest to him, and gives another fleeting glimpse into this hole within him.
…we’ll give back all these years of ageing and dying and stupid, stupid silence and be Mammy and Bobby again, two great auld pals.
And there’s so many more things to this novel. The atmosphere, all these untruths that aren’t really lies; all these truths that appear to be; all these facts that prejudice and emotions render.
The air is thick with platitudes here. We’ll all pull together. We’re a tight-knit community. We’ll all support each other. Oh really? Will we?
The Spinning Heart contains remarkable stories; not different remarkable, but astute remarkable. Each of these lives lived, so many affect the others and no one is aware, and it doesn’t matter because they’re drowning in their own sorrow; they don’t want to know they might be catching onto others’ a bit as well. Causation does not equal correlation. And yet it has those moments of closely-knit towns: the shared heartbreak, that mutual hatred of the bigwig who fucked them over, embarrassment in a when you are relieved, proud while the rest cherish. It is a collection of stories with an underlying thread, a pervasice yearning for more or for less, of existences that form a that certainly do not complement each other, but fit right in like puzzle pieces.
There are so many quotes I want to pull out, passages but it’s a short novel, so I’m gonna be greedy and keep ’em to myself on the last page of that course book glaring at me ’cause I’ll never be going forward the last page ever. Mwhahahaha!
But dudes, do give The Spinning Heart a couple more minutes because I don’t want you to miss out on it. Beautiful story, beautiful writing.
And because I’m not above it, here are the last lines from the book:
I just said oh love; oh love, what matters now?
What matters only love?
Review copy provided by publishers.