Inventory: Powerful, layered story of growing up in Derry

Book review: Darran Anderson has placed a deliberate and fundamental uncertainty at the heart of this book

Darran Anderson: Inventory compellingly describes the effects of shock and trauma

Darran Anderson: Inventory compellingly describes the effects of shock and trauma

Late in Inventory, Darran Anderson’s disturbing and memorable history of “a river, a city, a family”, the narrator sits down to question his father. The scene is Derry, in what passes for the post-Troubles world; and the questions the narrator has in mind were until recently more or less unaskable, given that “not long ago, asking about what happened in the Troubles might get you killed”. But now, we are told that life is different, and so, “one night, I decided to talk to him, finally, properly”.

And a history pours forth: a childhood in postwar Derry, with its chronic housing shortages, political injustice, clannishness and claustrophobia; and an adulthood amid the violence of the Troubles, and hobbled by the psychological trauma which haunted these years and which continues to the present day. A life which, like every life in Northern Ireland, has borne witness to a profoundly abnormal history, the thread of which continues to unspool.

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