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The Fire Starters de Jan Carson
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The Fire Starters (2019 original; edició 2019)

de Jan Carson (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
163972,622 (3.25)4
Dr Jonathan Murray fears his new-born daughter might not be as harmless as she seems. Sammy Agnew is wrestling with his dark past, and fears the violence in his blood lurks in his son, too. The city is in flames and the authorities are losing control. As matters fall into frenzy, and as the lines between fantasy and truth, right and wrong, begin to blur, who will these two fathers choose to protect? Dark, propulsive and thrillingly original, this tale of fierce familial love and sacrifice fizzes with magic and wonder.… (més)
Membre:JayeJ
Títol:The Fire Starters
Autors:Jan Carson (Autor)
Informació:Doubleday Ireland (2019), 304 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:irishwriters, to-read

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The Fire Starters de Jan Carson (2019)

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Resistible. ( )
  adrianburke | Nov 1, 2020 |
Winner of an EU Prize for Literature Jan Carson's The Fire Starters is a blend of social realism and the fantastic which reveals the ongoing trauma that haunts Belfast despite the Good Friday Agreement set in place two decades ago in 1998.

At the 2020 (digital) Melbourne Writers Festival, Jan Carson was paired with Tasmanian author Robbie Arnott whose new novel The Rain Heron (n my TBR) also uses magic realism in a setting grounded in everyday reality. To quote from my report about what Carson said in this session:
The Fire Starters explores the history of sectarianism in Northern Ireland in a novel where the ghosts of the past inhabit the present during the Marching Season in Belfast. These echoes of the past can be seen in real life: Carson said that whenever you see a limping man of a certain age in Belfast, it’s because he was knee-capped during the Troubles. The book traces a father’s dismay when he learns that his son is involved in the violence that often accompanies the bonfires set by the competing sides. Realism blends with the fantastic with rebellious young people setting mega fires that spark a conflagration.

Chair Angela Meyer asked: Can aspects of reality be better addressed by using the fantastic? Carson said that the Northern Ireland tradition is realism, whereas in the republic, this is not so. Citing writers like Salman Rushdie, Carson likes fantastic elements being used to show how absurd reality can be. She says she doesn’t want people to ‘like’ her work, she wants then to wake up and pay attention to what’s in it.
Which is certainly the effect the book had on me. I hadn't thought much about the ongoing effects of the violence in Belfast. From this distance and having no skin in the game, I thought the Troubles were all over and a good thing too. Carson tackles this attitude in Chapter 1 'This is Belfast', leading me to categorise this novel within 'War, Armed Conflict and its Aftermath' because though the conflict in Northern Ireland has long been characterised as 'The Troubles', that innocuous-sounding name is a euphemism for a civil war of extraordinary brutality.
The Troubles is too less a word for all of this. It is a word for minor inconveniences, such as overdrawn bank accounts, slow punctures, a woman's time of the month. It is not a violent word, something as blunt and brutal as 'apartheid'. Instead, we have a word like 'scissors' which can only be said in the plural. the Troubles is/was one monster thing. The Troubles is/are many individual evils caught up together. (Other similar words include 'trousers' and 'pliers'.) The Troubles is always written with a capital T as if it were an event, as the Battle of Hastings is an event with a fixed beginning and end, a point on the calendar year. History will no doubt prove it is actually a verb; an action that can be done to people over and over again, like stealing. (p.8)
It had not occurred to me that there remains in Belfast an undercurrent of fear that a small spark could start it all up again, nor that young people coming to maturity in a 'post-Troubles world' might not realise that reigniting rebellion might soon get out of control.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2020/08/21/the-fire-starters-by-jan-carson/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Aug 21, 2020 |
The summer "marching season", when East Belfast protestants commemorate the Battle of the Boyne with processions and bonfires, is a long-standing flashpoint for riots and civil disorder. In this particular year, it threatens to get even more out of control than usual, with a sinister masked figure posting videos on social media encouraging young people to start fires in defence of their "civil rights". Naturally, there are plenty who do so without stopping to think which rights they might be defending and how starting fires could help. This is Belfast, after all, and it's the middle of summer. The tourist board are hoping visitors will turn up to enjoy the city and its unexpected attractions, but it seems to be a lost cause when there are negative stories on the BBC News every night...

Against this background of the barely suppressed legacy of generations of community violence, we follow the story of two fathers frightened — for quite different reasons — of what they may have brought into the world with their children. One is a "normal enough" story of the heritage of violence; the other takes us off into a magic realist dimension. Jonathan has been picked, for unknown reasons, by a Siren to become the father of her child. Now he's convinced himself that baby Sophie will be genetically programmed to lure people to their doom the moment she starts speaking. In his plight, he discovers that Belfast is actually full of the concerned parents of children with unexpected powers, but he still has a hard time sharing his problem. He's a respectable doctor, he can't go around telling people he believes in supernatural beings.

This is obviously in part a fable about the powerful, unpredictable waves of love and fear for their children that parents experience, and in part a way to lead us into the strangeness of the mindset that goes with growing up in Northern Ireland and the way that engages — in good and bad ways — with the power of storytelling. Carson wants us to see the cult of reason and the protestant distrust of getting involved with symbolism and myth as elements that make it harder for people to share what they really feel about what's wrong with their lives. Carson is bending the edges of realism to achieve something a little bit like what Anna Burns did in Milkman by twisting some of the basic rules of language. I'm not sure if it works completely, but this is still a very interesting book, if a slightly disturbing one. ( )
1 vota thorold | Nov 30, 2019 |
Es mostren totes 3
The Fire Starters succeeds in dramatising the simmering volatility of a region that, with the looming post-Brexit threat of a hard border, could explode again. But volatility, Carson illustrates, can go either way. The needle can equally and unexpectedly swoop towards love.
afegit per thorold | editaThe Guardian, Claire Kilroy (May 29, 2019)
 
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Dr Jonathan Murray fears his new-born daughter might not be as harmless as she seems. Sammy Agnew is wrestling with his dark past, and fears the violence in his blood lurks in his son, too. The city is in flames and the authorities are losing control. As matters fall into frenzy, and as the lines between fantasy and truth, right and wrong, begin to blur, who will these two fathers choose to protect? Dark, propulsive and thrillingly original, this tale of fierce familial love and sacrifice fizzes with magic and wonder.

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