The Boatman and other stories: Rich prose and sumptuous imagery

Book review: Lack of humour is more than compensated for by the luxuriance of language

Billy O’Callaghan writes beautifully.

Billy O’Callaghan writes beautifully.

Billy O’Callaghan writes beautifully. His prose is rich and fluent and he has a powerful mastery of descriptive English – sumptuous images of fields and cliffs and sea, of sky and wind and weather enhance his fiction. In evoking atmosphere, such a key element in the short story, he is matchless.

By contrast with the tough prose of many young Irish writers, reflecting the dark side of the land of youth, or the thin language which mirrors too faithfully the register of the digital age, his prose is a feast after a famine. What it lacks in humour (there is very little) is more than compensated for by the luxuriance of the language, the agility of the sentences, and the depth of the reflections. These stories are more like classical sonatas than hard rock.

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