Synopses & Reviews
"In the U.K., a 'Jammy Dodger' is a jam-filled cookie or someone who's extremely lucky, which is probably the right term for Artie Conville in this engaging but slight first novel set in Belfast in 1988. As editor of Lyre, an obscure, publicly funded poetry magazine, Conville is a young man on the fringes of the literati, though his affection for poetry is readily apparent he has an amazing ability to quote relevant verses for almost any situation. The plot hangs on a professional crisis: unless a new issue of Lyre appears a good one, too he and co-editor Oliver Sweeney will be sacked. Embarking on 'a farrago of deception,' the pair create an entire issue's worth of poems out of whole cloth. The book is essentially a comic bildungsroman: Artie doesn't want to settle down to the life of his parents (suburban, middle class, boring), but he's not truly committed to being a writer or running a magazine either. Maturity will arrive, of course, despite his efforts to slow its progress. Smith is a good writer, with a funny sensibility, but the Northern Ireland backdrop, home of 'the Troubles,' provides a disquieting undercurrent (religious hatred, intolerance, and violence) that feels at odds with the fluffy proceedings. Agent: Euan Thorneycroft, A.M. Heath & Company (U.K.)." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.