COLM QUINN: ONES FROM 67
Smaller Sky Books
10 Brook Hill
ISBN 1 9031000 5 4
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This page last updated: 11th December 2007.
|COLM QUINN: ONES FROM 67|
Colm Quinn's collection of poems and short prose pieces is a tribute to his Grandmother. Please don't switch off. There are no hearts and flowers here. Grandmother Quinn was a monster who alienated almost everyone in her orbit — family, friends and neighbours — a foul mouthed catholic matriarch — violent, abusive, snobbish, gross. She was so horrible that the kindly nuns who organised day-trips to the sea-side refused to take her because she upset the other old folks so much.
But the way Quinn tells it (not disguising his own dislike for the old beast) she was also vital and unconquerable. Think Mother Courage, think Falstaff. The younger folks with their flimsy attempts at gentility wither in her presence.
Grandmother lived on an estate on the Falls road in Belfast. Quinn deals searchingly with its sour, segregated, working-class culture but never mentions the Troubles. The only politics that matter here are those of the family. This is surpising, bold perverse; choose your adjective. I have a sense of Quinn as a big talent deliberately choosing to work on a small scale. It's as though he were practising his skills in preparation for something altogether more ambitious. ONES FROM 67 is a collection of five-finger exercises, sharp, brilliant, fragmentary. It wouldn't surprise me if some of this material, suitably worked over and fictionalised, didn't eventually emerge in a debut novel.
Quinn is a young writer of scathing honesty. ONES FROM 67 is a hugely promising first publication. And no, I haven't a clue what the title means.
|reviewer: Tony Grist.|