In this bittersweet memoir about growing up and growing old, Dermot Healy explores the quality of memory, of tales told and heard and told again, of times half-remembered. Highly stylistic prose reflects the stream of human consciousness, where sometimes a leaf floats past and we think we recognize it as a leaf that floated past a year before. Dermot Healy's "Bend for Home" is part "Portrait of the Artist" and part "Angela's Ashes," combining the ambient grey of Irish poverty with characteristic Irish humor.
Healy has been criticized for betraying his mother's memory in the book's sometimes hilarious, sometimes wrenching last chapter. But it is one of the most touching accounts of a son and mother's last days together since I read Mark Spragg's "Where Rivers Change Direction." What would make his mother proud is knowing that Healy has become one of the first rank of Irish authors, and his account of her decline is a sad, beautiful piece of work.
Healy should be more widely read in America, if only because his is an original voice in a new key, Irish accent or not.