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

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry - 2016

My Post on The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

I offer thanks to Max u for The Amazon Gift Card that allowed me to read Days Without End.

Almost seven years ago I read and posted on a novel by Sebastian Barry, The Secret Scripture.  At the close of my post i said I hoped to read more of his work soon.  Maybe soon come and gone a good while ago but I very much enjoyed this second venture. (I was prompted to buy this because a promotional E mail letter to which I subscribe advised me the Kindle edition was marked down from $12.95 to $1.95.  I checked just now and that is still the price.)

We meet the narrator of the story in the American West.  He is maybe 13 and it is around 1855. He left County Sligo in Ireland on a Coffin Ship after all his family died in the famine.  He has hooked up with another young man.  They are offered work in show put on for miners.  They play girls.  Nothing bad happens to them, they are very sucessful.  However in a couple of years they are just to old for their roles.  They join an army unit charged with keeping the Indians under control.  Much of excitement of the novel centers around battles with Indian tribes as well as combat action in The American Civil War.  

Irish are everywhere.  Most all are refugees from the terrible famines.  Irish fight on both sides in the Civil War.  This is very much an immigrants story.

We follow the two Boys up to around age forty.  They see terrible things.  There are lots of interesting minor characters and an intriguing romance.  

Days Without End lets us see the violence in The American West.  We are brought to reflect on similarities to attitude of the English toward the Irish, powerful men far away viewed both as little more than vermin.

The narrator retains his humanity in spite of the barbaric violence he was involved in, killing to survive in battle and on the road.  The battle scenes are very vivid.  

Post Civil War America was a wasteland.  There is hapiness, joy and real love in Days Without End.  Slavery is part of the background.

At $1.75 I endorse it to all fans of historical fiction set in the American West, the Irish involvement made it more fun for me.  It kept my attention with lots of cliffhangers and delightful small details.

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

I was able to attend the interview Eleanor Wachtel did with Sebastian Barry in Toronto a couple years ago and am now intrigued to consider the similarities in the inspiration from his family, which was true too for Kate Grenville and her trilogy. Glad this other novel of his stood up for your expectations, given that you have so enjoyed his past writing.