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More Bread Or I'll Appear Hardcover – January 22, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

Emer Martin's second novel is an emotional roller coaster with tracks laid across the entire planet, from Ireland to Japan to the United States to Central America. Keelin, the youngest of five children, is dispatched by her mother to find the eldest daughter, Aisling, who's been missing for over 15 years. Her journey forces her to confront the obsessive-compulsive behavior of herself and her siblings, who tag along for parts of the trip or monitor her progress from afar. The colorful cast of characters (including a gay priest and a Japanese transvestite) is sure to strike a chord with anyone who's ever felt like an outcast and wished he or she could build a separate world someplace else.

From Publishers Weekly

Irish author Martin's meandering second novel (after Breakfast in Babylon) traces the erratic intersection of five siblings in a middle-class Irish family as they try (and usually fail) to leave home and make their way in the wider world. Molly, the mother of the clan and a piano teacher by profession, separates from her mentally unstable husband and moves the family from West Ireland to Dublin, where her oldest daughter and favorite, Aisling, can attend college. Yet the capable "tiger-spirited" Aisling disappears in her early 20s, leaving a void in her wake. Meanwhile, patterns develop at a belabored pace among the other siblings: teenaged Orla becomes pregnant and is shipped off to New York by the family's benefactor, Uncle Oscar, the priest; Patrick, the only son, exhibits pious, obsessive compulsive behavior that mirrors his father's; Siobhan bounces among jobs in London and New York, growing increasingly anorexic; and Keelin, the youngest and the principal narrator, resigns herself to staying at home to care for her ailing mother, finding work as a teacher. It is not until 15 years after Aisling's disappearance, when most of the siblings are in their early 30s, that Molly persuades Keelin to try to track down her sister, who has been sighted variously in Japan, Hawaii, Mexico and Honduras. Keelin and one or another sister take off around the world, following elusive clues, usually in bars, in pursuit of Aisling. They learn a little about her: she dresses as a man, and sells sex to Japanese businessmen but seems to prefer women. When Keelin finally encounters her in a dreamlike scene on the beach, the real Aisling cannot measure up to the expectations the reader and her family have of her. Martin's prose has a strong rhythmic lilt and her characterization is sound, though unfocused; the voice of Keelin barely emerges from the chatter of her siblings. Although Martin seems to be exploring whatever defines the essential Irish spirit, the narrative drive weakens and is almost lost against the global cacophony of Keelin's picaresque journey.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (January 22, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395918715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395918715
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,530,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on June 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Emer Martin has crafted a tale of an Irish family that is as far from Norman Rockwell (or his Irish equivalent) as they come. More Bread or I'll Appear is the story of an Irish family and their quest for a missing sibling. Each family has his or her own demons to deal with. Molly, the mother is stuck in Ireland, too scared to venture out and look for her precious first-born, Aisling; Oscar, her twin brother, is a homosexual, alcoholic priest, living in terror that his secrets will be revealed; Siobhan is anorexic, Orla has never gotten over the baby she gave up for adoption, Patrick has no ambition and drug addict friends. Keelin, the youngest, is perhaps the only sibling with some semblance of a "normal" life. It is she that Molly convinces to embark on a devastating journey to locate her lost sister, who disappeared 15 years earlier, almost without a trace. Keelin, accompanied by various siblings at various points in the narrative, learns some disturbing truths about her sister, and the rest of her family, as she searches.
Martin writes with a sarcastic, twisted humor that keeps this novel from plunging into the depressing underbelly of humanity that Keelin discovers in her search for her sister. Keelin comes to understand that the one thing that ties her family together is also tearing it apart--the obsessive compusive disorder that sent her father to an asylum.
More Bread or I'll Appear is a disturbing novel, a unique novel, a funny novel. I don't think it is for the faint of heart. I enjoyed this novel, and would encourage any daring reader to discover the world of Keelin and her family.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
it's a wonderful novel. I hope by now it has garnered some good notices, because it deserves lots of 'em. It's a big, human, exploring stretch of a story and I loved it, if in a couple of particular aspects: randomly as follows: pg. 256 'We didn't crawl out of the sea to become us. We clambered to each others waters when we were trapped in dried-up pools. We aren't seeking to evolve, but forces of environment etc. LIFE IS INFINITE WHEN PERCEIVED AS A CONTINUUM, HOLLOW AND BRUTAL WHEN WE TAKE IT IN CHUNKS.' Now, that's my kinda reflection. I also enjoyed the Japanese man's absolute fascination with Keelin, his obsessions re Aisling, and the images of that red hair and that female expansiveness, which stretched in all kinds of sexual expressions and directions. And hardly any 'womanspeak' either. I found the book's movement towards its ending rather utopian, and that's okay, because it's an utopia WITHIN and not one imposed or even imagined (I think) on and for others, if you get my drift. I loved Uncle Oscar (I was on to him from the start), and I loved Gerry. Particularly enjoyed Shawn and his bloody nests. There isn't much hope for us, collectively, is there? Or if so, then possibly only within the most miniature of human networks, tentacle to tentacle as it were, ganglion to ganglion, imagining possibilities in the gaps between nerve ends. It;s a great, energetic run of a novel and I thought it was really skilfully handled, and the dialogue was great. But dialogue is one of her great strengths.
Emer Martin's bleak vision of the human race as a composite of obsessive-compulsive disordered individuals cannot fail to both charm and challenge. Despite its bleakness, this is an arresting, extremely funny, high-octane book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I just got finished the novel and it's tremendous: what a cast of characters moving around the world. Reminded me of the Odyssey and Candide, that kind of book, and it's a kind of answer to Ulysses. Intensely readable and beautifully written. Also, it's a really good book on the Irish family and on the large Irish family especially: some times I thought I was reading about my own, being the oldest of 8 but not the wisest. You have tremendous talent, Emer, and the novel is a great achievement. My glass is raised to you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Having read Emer Martins first novel, Breakfast in Babylon, (which is highly recommended), I waited with baited breath for her next book. Follow up books from new authors can often be disappointing at the least, however, I was pleasantly suprised at the consistancy in Ms. Martin's talents as a young author. The story although tragic, is written with warmth and an understanding that is rarely seen in modern literature. There is greatness in this book and something for everybody.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F. Orion Pozo on April 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
More Bread Or I'll Appear is a novel where the Irish Diaspora meets the 21st Century. Emer Martin takes one family and puts them on the world stage. She writes with a lovely Irish humor that can make light of the direst situations, which the book is full of. Illness, Compulsive Disorders, Teen Pregnancy, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Gay Child-Abusing Priests, AIDS, Kidnapping, Robbery, Prostitution, Compulsive Eating Disorders, Cross-Dressing, and Murder are all treated in a matter-of-fact way, but can at times make this a hard novel to get through. Yet the character development and the author's sensitive approach to the human situation make this a wonderful novel.

Emer Martin takes us into the lives of a dysfunctional, but strong and resilient family as each member faces a crisis in their lives and comes to terms with themselves and their situation. Not for the feint of heart, but still heart-warming, this is a novel that looks at the personal within a global setting.

The setting is global with the characters circling the globe in search of a missing sister. Ireland, New York, Japan, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Honduras, Mexico, and Cuba are all there and lend this novel a truly global perspective.
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