Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"A Marriage in the Country" by Desmond Hogan

"A Marriage in the Country" by Desmond Hogan (1979, 20 pages)

The Irish Quarter Year Two
:  A Celebration of the Irish Short Story
March 11 to July 1
Desmond Hogan Week-June 18 to June 31
Day 7
Orphans and Russians
Co-Hosted  by Shauna Gilligan
author of 
Happiness Comes From Nowhere

"For the dandy's tragedy turns out to to have been the story of the bards who woke up to find themselves wandering spailpini, and of gentry reborn as tramps".  Declan Kiberd in Inventing Ireland

Project Notes-Desmond Hogan Week has now been extended until at least June 31.  I will keep the name.   I am treating Hogan's work as "found objects", a way of looking at literary art from the long ago.   If you are new to the work of Hogan, I suggest you read his stories and Shauna Gilligan's very well done introductory post on his work.   This is not a closed event, if you are interested in doing a guest post, you are welcome to do so.

"Marriage in the Country"

"Marriage in the Country" is a fascinating look at how madness is dealt with in the rural Ireland of the stories of Desmond Hogan.  And much much more.  I am not really into retelling the plots of the stories of Hogan, the biggest purpose of my posting on Hogan is to help me understand them.  The story is told in the third person and his  opening sentence for sure drew me in:  "She burned down half her house early that summer and killed her husband".   Magella, from a more or less decent family it seems, had married a pub owner twenty years older than her self and had a daughter with him.   Her daughter was taken away from and sent to live in Belfast but the courts decided not to put her in a mental hospital, figuring it was best to let her keep running the pub.

A Russian-Irish man moves to the village and sets up a garage, passing a lot of great plot action, they start a romance.   They have most of the romantic encounters in the woods and a young boy sees them and tells people about it and for this she is put in a mental hospital.  Sex with a man she is not married to warrants being put in a mental hospital but burning down a house with your husband does not.  

The man's father was a Russian sailor in town for the night, his mother a Wexford prostitute.  Before the woman was put in the mental hospital she and Boris had gone to visit her adult daughter in  Belfast.   This time the woman is much older than the man in her life, completely unacceptable in her time and place.   With the woman back in the mental hospital Boris starts up a romance with her daughter.   In the older woman "Boris was in way discovering a mother".   

There is a really lot in this great story.   I will talk more latter in my posts on some of the other stories in  Lark's Eggs and Other Stories on matters that are also dealt with in this story.  

I found this to be another great story.   It deals directly with loneliness, the need for a home, the lack of a father and being an outsider as do many of the other stories

Lilliput Press press publishes Hogan's work and offers two of his works as E-Books.   I found their catalogue totally fascinating.   They are the premier publishers of Irish related books, located in Dublin and established in 1984.

Shauna Gilligan's wonderful new novel Happiness Comes From Nowhere can be purchased on Amazon or The Book Depository.

Mel u


Suko said...

This does sound like another evocative story by your featured author of short fiction. Excellent, concise review!

shaunag said...

I'm finding your take on Hogan's work fresh and interesting, Mel.