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Reading in the Dark [Paperback]

Seamus Deane
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book by Deane, Seamus

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Totally satisfying on every level, this book is a true masterpiece. The level of description, the point of view of the naive child, the events which amuse and/or frighten, the manipulation of time, the suspense created--all are absolutely flawless in their execution. The reader becomes wholly immersed in the act of reading and totally oblivious to the act of creation, so much so that it's difficult to describe the book critically without gushing uncontrollably!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Way of Every Flesh April 11 2000
The book of Irish poet Seamus Deane describes a childhood of an unnamed protagonist in Northern Ireland in the 1950s. This gives opportunity to attain impartial attitude to the situation in Derry in order not to blame participants of the conflict but to discern its cause and motives. Old family mysteries' disclosing makes the novel a real pageturner, but it is only a part of author's plot.
Seamus Deane masterly reconstructs a wonderful universe of child's fantasies: enigmatic and thrilling adult world appears as an exciting fairy tale with additional heroic or terrifying tinges of local political discord. The child grows up, and fantastic histories lose their charms acquiring outlines of reality in terrors, cowardice and treachery of their personae. Former semigods, parents become ordinary mortals with their fears, pains and guilts; but extra knowledge and futher understanding give both additional strength and pride in never-ending children-parents rivalry and additional yearning after innocence of childhood lost once and for all. We become adults only when in comprehension of our parent's vulnerability we find compassion for them. And hope for future mercy from our own children.
An excellent novel!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Slow start, but it just got better and better Feb. 2 1999
Having just read Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes", which also describes Catholic childhood in Ireland, I expected to find the two books very similar. I was wrong; whilst "Angela's Ashes" mainly revolved around the problems of poverty and alcoholism in the family, "Reading in the Dark" is decidedly more intricate. Deane has created a beautiful book, full of pleasant (and unpleasant) childhood cameos that are so delightful, as a reader, to share. What I enjoyed most about the book was Deane's ability to create amazingly vivid scenes. The secret passage in "Grianan" was an exceptionally memorable passage (pardon the pun).
All in all, "Reading in the Dark" was a thoroughly enjoyable experience which gathered momentum and just became too good to put down.
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As a former student of Seamus Deane, I can understand why readers might be confused or turned-off by the apparent "disjointedness" of this novel's syntax. Yet after having studied the works of such prominent Irish authors as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, Deane's writing gains literary depth. His scholarly ability to express the Irish experience not only through plot but with diction and syntax elevate his writing to a new level of skillful expression. The disjointedness and often impoverished style of writing reflect Joycean traditions and comment on the Irish people's inability to find a language which is truly their own, one separate from the Imperialistic English.
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1.0 out of 5 stars reads as if written in the dark May 8 1998
no joking, this novel seems to have been written without the aid of any illumination, physical or otherwise; some may call it literary style but what it really amounts to is a disjointed and brusque mode of narrative that fails to capture the reader with anything save contempt; the characters all remain hidden behind this facade of darkness, only perring out now and then so that the plot does not completely stall; this work is more representative of a violent mind than an Irish one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brave New Ireland Feb. 28 2001
Reading in the Dark might merely have been one more "miserable Irish childhood" story, sandwiched between Angela's Ashes and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, and dismissed. Seamus Deane's unnamed boy author -- nameless, it seems, because his world can't be bothered to notice him -- fits squarely between Frank McCourt and Paddy Clarke in era and in social class. He does not suffer Frank's horrific poverty, nor does he own the books that he reads, as Paddy does. The boy's life in a large working-class Catholic family, with its minimal adult supervision, at least one parent who cannot cope, cruel priests for teachers, and the necessary string of funerals, initially seems to be heading down the literary path to deja-vu.
Seamus Deane, born in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1940, and now a professor at the University of Notre Dame, rescues his first novel from this downward spiral with his ability to transform stereotypical storylines into shattering new tales. Deane masterfully subverts the IRA theme of glory and honour; of fighting and dying for Ireland. He gives us the story of the narrator's Uncle Eddie, introduced as an IRA hero who either escaped from or was killed in a shoot-out with Protestant policemen, but who has not been seen or heard from since.
Deane plays with this contrived, glorious IRA getaway story, tempting the reader to take the anecdote at face value, to romanticize Eddie as a hero. He then inserts a twist -- we learn that Eddie does not have a hero's reputation outside of his family, but is seen as a police informer, a "stooly," by the Catholic community. This reputation stains Eddie's entire family, including the nephew that he never met.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a Poignant Memoir
This beautiful book reads more like a poignant and heartbreaking memoir than a novel. It's difficult to believe the incidents described are really fiction and not the author's... Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars (...)
Reading in The Dark
By: Seamus Deane
This is a young adult fiction novel.
This Book takes place back in the 1940's and finishes in the early 1970's. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim and Charming, Funny and Sad
Seamus Deane has added another fine book to the amazing collection of novels looking at Ireland and the Irish in the twentienth century. Read more
Published on May 4 2001 by Ricky Hunter
4.0 out of 5 stars A masterful telling.
Seamus Deane has brilliantly crafted a powerful account of the Northern Irish struggle in a most unique way. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2001 by Bernard
5.0 out of 5 stars Will become a classic...
One of the best, ever. It was dark, moody, true. It had a lot of love in it. I appreciated the way the protagonist loved his parents and showed us, fairly and steadily, their... Read more
Published on Dec 27 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars read it twice
The first time i read the book, I was less than enthused. Though most of the charecters were thoroughly developed I thought that it lacked a sufficient plot. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2000 by Wendy Kallery
4.0 out of 5 stars Details details details
Seamus Deane writes very descriptive and intersting work. He is a renound poet, and his first novel reglects that. The book is beuatifully written. Read more
Published on Dec 10 2000 by Chelsea
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Triumph
Seamus Deane is a wonderful poet as well as a historian and
anthologist of Irish literature. Reading in the Dark, however, is his
first novel. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely beautiful!
I read this book for a class, and it was truely one of the best books I've ever come across, (it made me cry- no small accomplishment)! Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2000 by Cordelia
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetically spellbinding
This novel is a lyrical masterpiece. It gives the reader a window through which to view life in Ireland. Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2000 by Cori Knauss
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