Another take on 'Long Time, No See'

Tue, Mar 29, 2011, 01:00

Madam, – I have just read Eileen Battersby’s Olympian review of Dermot Healy’s Long Time No See. She presses all the right buttons to show the editor and the reading public how knowledgeable she is to expound on his work. Very professional, well indexed stuff. I have also read it. Clearly we were reading different novels. What does it mean when the subtitle states, “Dermot Healy has written a young man’s novel but its dialogue and observations are far longer than this story justifies”? I hesitate to use the word stupid but that’s how that subtitle strikes me.

Does Ms Battersby look at the photograph of Dermot Healy and say: This is an old man’s effort not fashionable like Neil Jordan’s so I’ll disembowel him because that’s how I feel today?

We were all privileged to read Ms Battersby’s ghost story in The Irish TimesMagazine a few months ago. It was a revelation. Sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, it was the worst piece of creative writing I have ever read in a long life of reading. Truly. Stunningly bad. I have used it in a workshop as an example of how to avoid writing “Shite and onions”. That this person has the temerity to sit in negative judgment on one of the great masters of Irish writing should not pass without comment. – Yours, etc,

EUGENE McCABE,

Drumard, Clones,

Co Monaghan.