Thursday, April 06, 2023

On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry


Sebastian Barry was completely unknown to me before I read the recent New Yorker profile about him.

This is a gorgeous book. The prose reads like poetry in long stretches, almost impossible to quote. And the plot coils very, very quietly, waiting to strike.

Her sense of the delicious is maybe part of that effort, not to dwell on terrible things.

'Telling his beads, o'er and o'er. [130]

How is it that the human body is designed sometimes to melt into a white lineny bed, in the city of New York, and couples on linen beds in all the cities of the world, trying to climb into each other's skins? That's one queer, wonderful creature. [138]

'The past is a crying child, that's for sure,' said Joe, 'but it will all be made up to him in the coming times. Yes, sir.' [141]

But for those moments he had brought me back to the pact we make with life. That we will see through and live it according to the length of time bestowed on us. The gift of life, oftentimes so difficult to accept, the horse whose teeth we are so often inclined to inspect. [171]

'I want you to tell Bill that his father loves him dearly, will you do that?'
'Of course I will.'
I was thinking, it's hard for a child to understand a love like that. He would rather go fishing with his father than hear such a declaration. But I knew Ed existed in a parsimonious place. He had only the farthings and pence of love to give. [229]

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