Jack McNulty is a 'temporary gentleman', an Irishman whose commission in the British army in the Second World War was never made permanent. In 1957, in his lodgings in Accra, he sets out to write his story. He is an ordinary man, both petty and heroic, but he has seen extraordinary things. He has wandered the world - as a soldier, an engineer, a UN observer - following his childhood ambition to better himself.
©2014 Sebastian Barry (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd
"Fascinating and Moving, [it] shows Sebastian Barry to be one of our finest novelists – daring, accommodating and humane" (John Banville)
Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
In a story told by Jack McNulty, the brother of Eneas and Tom McNulty, this beautifully-written book fleshes out the narrator's life and that of his wife Mai, and at the same time fills in gaps in our understanding of the extended family. Barry's The Secret Scripture and The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty are companion novels to The Temporary Gentleman. All are written in staggeringly beautiful prose and are, at times, almost unbearable in their detailing of the tragedy of Ireland's political conflicts, the treatment of women, and, in this book, alcoholism. While telling us of his wife's descent into alcoholism, Jack McNulty reveals even more about himself and his culpability in her situation.
Frank Grimes does a marvelous job of the narration. These novels by Sebastian Barry (and the ones about the Dunnes: Annie Dunne, A Long, Long Way and On Canaan's Side) are to be listened to and/or read slowly, and savored. They are not all available in audiobook form; I recommend ingesting them in any form you find.
"Poetic and melancholy"
I have heard that this author is known for his dense literary style of writing and this is certainly a true example. I get the sense that every sentence has been worked on over and over again until it is honed to perfection. By and large this works as a masterwork but I did think the result was a little too self conscious to draw me into the story. This is probably fortunate as this is a grim tale of lives destroyed by alcoholism and gambling and a woman's descent into misery and self destruction.
I have heard Sebastian Barry's books are very good so I am a little sorry I started with this one. Overall this was not for me but I can understand why he is so widely admired.
"Beautiful prose wonderfully narrated"
I haven't read the print version but audio is so good I would heartily recommend
When he meets May first.
When he meets May's family
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