Book Review: The Hour After Happy Hour – Mary O’Donoghue


Posted 10 months ago in Book Review

DDF apr-may-24 – Desktop

The Hour After Happy Hour

Mary O’Donoghue

[Stinging Fly Press]

For those of us who have emigrated, the concept of home is fraught with questions, What makes us leave? What brings us back? What ties us to a place? What stops us from returning?

In her collection of short stories, The Hour after Happy Hour, Mary O’Donoghue starts to unwind these questions through a myriad of diverse characters whose voices amplify each other through repeated symbols, sparkling observations and unexpected humour.

This is a book that expands in depth with each story – motifs are unlocked, layers unfurl and we feel ourselves getting closer to some kind of explanation. O’Donoghue is not concerned with simple vignettes, but instead has created microcosms for the intricacies of human life.

In ‘Safety Advice for Staying Indoors’, the ‘farmer’s daughter’ recounts how her ‘mouth footled and bludgeoned and skidded against the History teacher’s daughter’. O’Donoghue’s magic ability to manipulate language is at work here, conveying all the clumsiness, embarrassment and beauty of a first kiss in just a few words.

O’Donoghue describes a motel with ‘no good place to rest a toothbrush’, a woman who leaves ‘a scarf of perfume in the air’, a ‘Derelict Father’, memories that ‘dredge treacherously’, a face reflected as a ‘blind oblong on the fridge door’. She continuously transforms inane observations into strikingly relatable snapshots which solidify The Hour After Happy Hour as a collection pulsating with human feeling.

Words: Holly Gash

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