[The Stinging Fly]
Just over a decade since the publication of his last novel Watermark, Sean O’Reilly unleashes another dark, gritty beast with Levitation, a novella and short story collection with a cast of marginalised characters including criminals and prostitutes.
A thread linking most of the stories is that their protagonists inevitably wind their way towards a certain Capel Street barbershop, the setting for the common theme of thwarted masculine desire and failure seen clearly in stories like ‘Rescue’ and ‘The Cavalcade’.
The prose often carries the manic energy, swagger and colloquially-apt humour that might remind you of that highly intelligent bad kid at school. It is stylistically innovative, using stream-of-consciousness narration and lacking in quotation marks. This serves to invoke a dreamlike state that mimics the characters’ muddled perception of reality, and their confused sense of self.
The eponymous novella features an absurd comic mentor archetype who aids Valentine, the 49-year old protagonist, on his small-scale hero’s journey of transformation in learning to drive and simultaneously discovering the truth of his past.
Erotically charged and uncompromising, both stories and novella lay bare the potential for transgression in all of us, and explore internal conflict of those who hover on the margins of society.
Words: Maryam Madani