A new edition of one of best-selling author Lionel Shriver's early novels, reissued 25 years after first publication - an engrossing commentary on the intersection of politics and human relationships, set in turbulent Northern Ireland.
For 10 years Estrin Lancaster has fled Philadelphia. From the Philippines to Berlin, she's been a traveler without a destination, an expatriate without a motherland. In each of the cities Estrin favors, she manages an apartment, a job, and a lover and never tarries past the first signs of ennui.
Her latest destination is Belfast in Northern Ireland. After 20 years of ritualized violence, this city, too, is exhausted - a town where when one more bomb explodes in the city center, old ladies blow the dust off their treacle cakes and count their change. Here the lanky and spiteful Farrell O'Phelan, former purveyor of his own bomb-disposal service, technically Catholic but everyone's aggravation, wrangles through the maze of factions in the North by despising every side. Farrell's affair with the curious Estrin is nonetheless a meeting of two loners; like hers, Farrell's marathoning around the planet has become a running in place. In deadlocked Northern Ireland, it has become harder and harder to believe that anything is happening at all.
A grand tragi-comedy - one of the earliest displays of the ambition and intelligence that has since earned Lionel Shriver worldwide acclaim - Ordinary Decent Criminals is about conflict groupies, people terrified of domesticity, who stir up anguish in their lives and their countries to avoid the greater horror of what lies closest to home.
©2009 Lionel Shriver (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
I love every single one of Lionel Shriver's books except for this one and Checker and the Derailers.
This book was striaght up boring. The story drags on and on, and I get the impression that the author is showing off how much she knows about the politics in this particular region while simultaneously entering in a self meditation about some of her own worst character traits by pouring them into the character of Estrin. The main characters are not particularly complex or interesting, just aggravatingly angsty and thoroughly difficult to like. There are some broad philosophical themes that were almost interesting, like the nature of suffering, but the investigation was too cliche and unoriginal. Overall, it reads like a book written by a self-absorbed teenager, albeit a talented one.
Absolutely would not recommend.
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