Written with the art of a skilled fiction writer whose ear for Irish bluster is pitch-perfect,Whoredom in Kimmagetells the tale of contemporary Irish women through a series of brilliantly animated scences that take the reader from Dillon's tiny pub in rural Corofin to the heart of Dublin. This beguiling account of Irish life transcends that nation's small shores through the power of Mahoney's great storytelling gifts. Before the phenomena of Frank McCourt'sAngela's Ashes, and Thomas Cahill'sHow the Irish Saved Civilization, Rosemary Mahoney traveled to Ireland in response to the growing feeling that changes were taking place, and that those changes directly involved women. Her ideas are animated in brilliantly crafted scenes, taking the reader from Dillon's tiny pub in Corofin to a lesbian pub in Dublin, from a Legion of Mary meeting to a classroom full of boisterous schoolgirls determined to drive their teacher, S'ta Keatin', over the edge. Here, too, are scenes with Ireland's first woman president, Mary Robinson, and the country's preeminent woman poet, Eavan Boland. But most memorable, and perhaps most prescient of the recent enchantment with literature about the Emerald Isle, are Mahoney's pitch-perfect ear for Irish bluster and warmth, her eye for detail, and people so real and unforgettable you'd think they were having a cup of tea with you.
She finds no beauty, no happiness or anything charming in the Ireland she visits. She says she loves it there - but every person she encounters is deeply flawed - some are yellow toothed, watery eyed, imbecilic or plain crazy. She seems to be able to barely tolerate all the people who surround her. Her criticisms reach everyone - young and old - she even manages to find fault with the young daughters of Irish poet Eavan Boland.
The only person that does not suffer such scrutiny is herself - she glides through Ireland the object of everyone's affection and beloved by all and the recipient of so many advances I would hardly be able to count. Her writing sure lacks any reflection of beauty that these people might have seen. She sounds like the most unlikeable and miserable of creatures.
The subtitle of this book suggests that the book is intended to be an examination of women in Ireland. Most chapters seem to have no relationship to that subject - the few that do are sprinkled around and are in jarring contrast to her self indulgent chapters about her encounters with the local people of Corofin where she is living and her travels to other parts of the country. Most of the book is concerned with describing the Irish people (one by one) as odd, alcoholic and ugly while spending equal time assuring her readers that she is desired by all those who meet her.
Mahoney's writing is sometimes incoherent and impossible to get through - she sprinkles quotes around without sufficient context. The book is split into three parts - why is it in three parts? I couldn't tell you - there doesn't seem to be any reason for the division - the parts within chapters also seem to be placed randomly for perhaps visual effect more than a means of organizing the subject matter. (or maybe just laziness)
I read this book because I was looking for the author's new book about the Nile that received very positive reviews. I picked this book up because I have an interest in all things Irish and thought it might be an interesting and illuminating read. I couldn' t have been more wrong.