Chillingly distant yet gruesomely suffocating, this novel uses a series of loosely connected episodes to describe a harsh rural community in Ireland. I found myself developing an uneasy sympathy for ‘the old man’ and the mute child who the rest of the village hold in violent suspicion. The stifling and troubling atmosphere of the writing drew me in and stayed with me.
It's the milking and the feeding and the fieldwork, the old man knows. The throb of the milkers, in the pipes. In the shed. And the milk falling to the tank. The scrape of the fork against the bunks and the long draw of water a cow takes in gulps. His feet colliding against the inside of his wellies. The wild swing of a calf's tail when it's on the teat. And the ache of it all, of all of it. It's the rhythms of these things that fill him, the move of it in his bones, that drown himself inside his skin. He has worn himself into everything here. How is it that he must give up that which is his? That which is the all of him.