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Original Essays | July 24, 2014

Jessica Valenti: IMG Full Frontal Feminism Revisited

It is arguably the worst and best time to be a feminist. In the years since I first wrote Full Frontal Feminism, we've seen a huge cultural shift in... Continue »
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City of Bohane by Kevin Barry
City of Bohane

chasvanw, July 4, 2013

It's forty years or so in the future and a gang called the Hartnett Fancy controls the infamous city of Bohane. At the end of the first chapter, Logan Hartnett, the gang's natty albino boss, ends a walk along its dock and through its labyrinthine lanes by stopping in a bar. He orders oysters and naturally (given the novel's presumed setting) Irish whiskey. "We might as well," he explains, "elevate ourselves from the beasts of the field."

The populace of Bohane is indeed elevated from the beasts... for one thing, by the earthy half Celtic, half Caribbean poetry of their speech. But not by much else. This is a harsh society, in some sense post-apocalyptic. Not full-on apocalypse; this is not The Road. The city of Bohane is saved as well as savaged by its romantically violent traditions. The power struggle at the heart of this story --between Hartnett, The Gant Broderick, Jenni Ching, Girly, and others-- even allowing for it mythic elements, is not by itself very original. Set amongst the traditions and dark geography of Bohane, it becomes spellbinding.

Anthony Burgess, James Joyce, Cormac McCarthy, Tom Waits, Sergio Leone: these are just a few of the names evoked by reviewers to try to suggest the feel of this novel. Most obviously, City of Bohane is something of an analog to Clockwork Orange. In my opinion it doesn't suffer much from the comparison. It's that good.

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