In the Forestby Edna O'Brien Published 22 Apr 2002
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|Publisher||Weidenfeld & Nicolson|
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Based on a horrendous true crime, IN THE FOREST is the story of Mich O'Kane -- 'not all there in the head' it's said -- who shoots three people dead in the woods of Ireland. Edna O'Brien traces the events that lead to such horror. Mich O'Kane hears voices; he cannot stop mourning the death of his mother. Theft and other crimes lead him to a Christian Brothers borstal, then to a British prison. By the time he returns home, he is an institutionalised criminal incapable of telling the truth even to himself. Single mother Eily lives with her young son Maddie in a house Mich camped out in after his mother's death. One night, Mich drags them out of the house and orders Eily to drive to the forest. The third death is that of a priest he entreats to come to the murder site. This tragic and starkly terrible story is told from various points of view, including Eily's, Mich's granny's, and a priest's. But the core of the story is Mich, born to fail. Can there be any hope for him?
"In the Forest" Reviews
A very different type of book to my usual ones. I nearly put it down after the first few chapters due to the style of writing, as I found it hard to follow jumping from character to character with no narrative explanation. However; if you feel tempted to stop part way through then do not! Keep going with it, as it turns out to be an excellent read. It is harrowing, and I was left feeling pretty hollow when I'd finished it, especially with the knowledge it was based on a true story, but it is so well written (despite my initail thoughts) as it really captures what must have been going on in Michen's mind. Read it, but do not expect smiles and happy ever afters.
My favorite movie of all time is 1978's "Halloween," & this book has all the elements which, to me, seem essential in a modern horror. Rob Zombie tried to justify the killer's motive in the 2007 version of that film, and pretty much messed the story up. Edna O'Brien, on the other hand, an amazing voice very particular about understating things and giving veneer to objects both alive and not, merges motive and magic. (The woods themselves are a character, perhaps the very main one.)
A man goes berserk, killing to satiate the voices in his head, and this account was based on true life. O'Brien, true to the tradition of modern Irish psychopaths (like McCabe's "Butcher Boy") sounds a little like Joyce Carol Oates, a tad like Toni Morrison. Her tale is hair-raising and while the climax occurs halfway through, damn does she know how to keep the reader interested! Her woods are phantasmagorical, the fairy tale constructed here is a tragedy. I really must read her other books... & so should you.
This story really happened. Maybe not quite the way O'Brien relays it, but it's true. A woman and her child were abducted and murdered, and then a priest was taken and killed soon after, all by a young man who heard voices and exhibited lots of signs of mental illness. He had been placed in institutions early in his life and suffered horrific abuse at the hands of authorities. Does this make him less responsible for his crimes? Is he a victim as well?
I found this book compelling. I'm a mental health professional and perhaps that's one of the reasons why, but I ended the book feeling so sad for all involved. The murderer, the victims, the psychiatrist who tried to treat him, the towns that were terrorized... what devastation. O'Brien's novelization is so well written. This is my first book of hers and I look forward to reading more. I understand why she was so controversial in Ireland- she writes about what no one wants to admit.
Food: unevenly cooked steak. Chewy in some parts, too bloody in others, but not a piece of meat you regret eating.
Depois de lido à lupa, fica sobretudo a mestria da linguagem cuja tradução me exigiu uma multiplicidade de recursos — e me deu prazer em medida próxima. Confesso-me, todavia, algo aliviado por sair das profundezas destas trevas. Mas desengane-se quem pensa que isto é a mera história de uma psicose que assassina. A escrita de Edna O'Brien é de uma mestria irrepreensível e de uma profundidade rara.
Moody, even "Gothic" (as at least one reviewer suggested), this novel tells the story of three horrific murders in West Ireland countryside. Based on a true story, it recounts the story of a young man who was locked away in a juvenile facility, subject to horrific abuse both sexual and otherwise, who now returns to his home town to wreak revenge. He is obviously mentally ill. There is no sympathy for him and a lot of fear. The local constabulary is afraid of him. Soon he sets his sights on a young mother and her child....This is literary fiction at its best. It's not a fast read. I had to go back a few times to check things that I had read. O'Brien is an amazing writer. She lives in London. One article I read said that she is not welcome in Ireland. I can see why. She as no patience for the Irish adherence to Roman Catholicism. The abuse that children have suffered there at the hands of the clergy is well known. I loved this book. It challenged me. I enjoy the challenge of a literary writer such as O'Brien and plan to read more. I read a lot of crime fiction. This is crime fiction with a literary twist. No sex, no violence but dark, dark, dark....
Beautiful descriptions (and i usually feel like i'm slogging through a novel if it has this much descriptiveness about objects and places) and a great array of voices tell the story of a murderer and his crime and the place where it happened and the people it happened to.
Compare this Irish novel of murder with Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman and John Banville's The Book of Evidence.
Highly recommended for anybody who loves good writing; anybody who wonders not only what madness might be like but what it might be like to have a madman among your people.
This book deserves a much better overview, but i don't feel up to the task. Just read it!