Bróga Johnny Thomáis, by Jackie Mac Donncha

Paperback review

Thu, Oct 17, 2013, 12:30


Book Title:
Bróga Johnny Thomáis


Jackie Mac Donncha

Cló Iar-Chonnacht

Guideline Price:

Bróga Johnny Thomáis is a collection of short stories that reflect the soul’s seasons in all their colours. The title story is a poignant look at a lost soul in London. It is to Mac Donncha’s great credit that, in his hands, the subject matter, the Irish emigrant, is neither tired nor trite. He conveys Johnny’s sense of loss and despair while ensuring he is a human character rather than a literary trope. He skewers the casual racism of Johnny’s supposedly kindly landlady: “ ‘Why don’t you call me Imelda, Pat?’ ‘Why do you call me Pat,when you know damn well my name is Johnny?’ he says in his own mind.” Mac Donncha’s keen ear for his characters’ thoughts on the human condition is in evidence in other stories, which explore, among much else, the supernatural, ageing and, indeed, wildlife. The story of the old fox in Aois na Céille is a worthy companion to, say, Liam Ó Flaithearta’s Bás na Bó.