From Publishers Weekly
With an unflinching and at times painful honesty, Roper's debut novel incisively explores the brutality of intimate relationships. Stephen, an angry young Dublin factory worker and aspiring writer struggles with the loss of his 19-year-old sister to cancer and the disintegration of his marriage to a controlling, bitter journalist, Ursula. He and Ursula marry early, "in love with notions of each other," but their marriage begins to collapse as they renovate a house she buys. Relentlessly tormented by a sadistic gang of neighborhood kids, they are unable to offer each other solace, and when Stephen gets the chance to move to New York, he takes it. In the city, where "life moves too quickly... to let memories gather," he begins a titillating and sometimes violent affair with Holfy, an independent photographer 15 years his senior, while still corresponding with Ursula. His tortured analysis of his interaction with these two very different women drives the novel. Though it lacks a conventional plot and is sometimes frustratingly vague on practical details Stephen seems to earn a living only sporadically, and his aims as a writer are unclear the book achieves an impressive consistency of tone and purpose. Roper has a keen and unforgiving eye for the little cruelties of love, and his perspicacious psychological explorations offer startling insight into the nature of artistic creation, death, pain, pleasure, desire and hatred. Agent, Beth Vesel. (Feb.)Forecast: Excerpted in the New Yorker and highly praised by Jim Harrison and Margot Livesey, this astringent novel, akin to Hanif Kureishi's darker work, should appeal to readers interested in an unsentimental examination of relations between men and women.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In his first novel, Irish writer Roper uses precise and dramatic language to deal with family strife, cancer deaths, and failed interpersonal relationships. First-person narrator Stephen, an angry young Dubliner, watches his younger sister succumb to cancer. Then his relationship with his intelligent and bluntly independent wife becomes strained by her growing interest in her career as a poet and journalist, his own restless dissatisfaction, and the constant besieging of their house in Irish Town by a group of evil neighborhood children. Stephen drifts into an affair and finally decides to move to New York City, where he commences a strange and contentious relationship with an older woman who is a successful photographer involved in the Lower Manhattan art scene. In the end, he leaves her as well and begins a journey back to Ireland that leads him to confront and begin to understand himself and his past. In intense and edgy scenes, Roper's characters jab at each other like fighters, testing limits, making discoveries, and sometimes literally drawing blood. Dialog is woven from a continuous flow of comments, observations, and memories. Poignant and jarring, this skillfully written work is recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Jim Coan, SUNY at Oneonta Lib.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.