David Collard

Ghost Writing

Solar Bones

By

Tramp Press 223pp £12 order from our bookshop

Thirty years ago Conor Cruise O’Brien coined the acronym GUBU, standing for grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented. He was paraphrasing a comment by the then taoiseach of Ireland, Charles Haughey, describing a strange series of incidents in the summer of 1982 that included a double murder and the arrest of the killer in the house of the Irish attorney general. The episode inspired John Banville’s 1989 novel, The Book of Evidence.

Another GUBU episode from more recent Irish history lies at the heart of Mike McCormack’s bracingly original novel. In March 2007 the mains water supply in Galway (the author’s home town, ‘the wettest city in Ireland’) and the surrounding areas became contaminated with cryptosporidium, a parasite found in human and animal excrement. Many people became very ill. McCormack investigates this ‘bodily and civic catastrophe’, as represented by the sickness of the narrator’s wife, an extended metaphor for the state of the nation.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What did London look like in the 6th Century? Rory Naismith's 'Citadel of the Saxons' tries to answer that questi… ,
    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,
    • ‘Look,’ says Trump. ‘The fact is I’m only human.’ On the evidence of this book that point is debatable. From the A… ,