Thursday, 6 September 2012

Book Review by Eric Adler

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Mervyn Cooke's 'O Derry Boy' smacks of Ireland and the Irish, and of his Irish background, and one feels the blood leaping from his prose.  This short childhood in pictures and poems falls neatly, if painfully in two parts.

Firstly, he writes feelingly of the loss of his father.  The grief, sorrow, tears and pain arrest one from the page.   "Waves of anguish wash over us and we yearn to be found on some faraway, friendier shore " he writes, as his father passes away in September 2007.   The reality of the knowledge that Cooke will no longer have his father with him has created in him feelings of such anguish which this writer found almost unbearable.

Experience indicates that the telling of pain can become less of a reality than the showing of it. 
In this short preamble, the author has bridged that difficult gap with what he calls " The Last Goodbye"

This is followed by a lengthier, second part.  Poems of Cooke's childhood indicate with similar strength, his farming family background, " the scratching of fowls, the screaming of the runt of the litter  ".

In ' And I Awake' he does not mince his words; " ..sickly smell of sweet manure " and "..the slap and plop of cow dung murdered the yard " , show, rather than tell of a happy boyhood partly spent on the farm.

These poems, sometimes brief, short, occasionally lengthy, show a strength of formidable insight into the human condition of boyhood seen from the maturity of years.  They are showing and give cause for immediate re-reading.

The black and white photographs assist in the understanding of youth in an Irish outdoor background.  Some are out-of-focus which, interestingly, lend a feeling that one might wish to have been with Cooke and his family in those creamy years.

O Derry Boy - E-Book $ 2.99 Hard back $ 36.40

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