Have you ever felt stuck in a rut and wished you could drop everything and move to another country? Do you have family or ancestry in a place where you’ve never set foot? Radio Ireland speaks to the wanderer, the lost soul in all of us, and the parts of many of us that long to connect with our heritage.
Kevin Mahon has written an engaging and heart-breaking novel about a Toronto-raised man living in Austin, Texas whose immigrant father’s Irishness was a big part of his life. Brendan grew up in a house full of Irish things and became best friends with another Irish man, but he’s never been to Ireland himself.
After his dad, Eamonn, passes away due to complications from alcoholism, Brendan accepts his friend Rory’s offer to be co-host of a Dublin radio show. He’s adrift in Austin; maybe Dublin can be a new home. Unfortunately, Rory fails to meet him once he arrives. It seems his friend’s gone missing, and Brendan has to handle the radio show by himself. On the spot, he invents a co-host by impersonating his late father on air. Antics ensue.
The listeners love “Eamonn,” who takes the piss out of his son on every occasion. By replaying old conversations with his father, befriending locals who knew him, and exploring the rough-and-tumble Dublin neighbourhood where he grew up, Brendon comes to know his “da” on a much deeper level.
In Dublin, Brendan finds connections both platonic and romantic. Unfortunately, he is still dealing with depression; nor is he free from the family problems with alcohol. The book doesn’t have a happy ending, so expect heartache along with the Irish humour. The plot thread with Rory is also largely left dangling, with a resolution I found unsatisfying. Other reviewers of this book have noted that it would benefit from more editing, in terms of both spelling/grammar and consistency.
If you enjoy raw, self-deprecating honesty and raunchy humour, you’ll find Brendan to be an endearing narrator. This book reads like listening to friend’s story at a bar, or maybe hearing a good storyteller on the radio.
Having moved to the UK, where some of my own family came from, I related to many Brendan’s experiences of entering a new but familiar cultural milieu. If you, like Brendan (and many Canadians), have ties to Ireland, this book might resonate. Check it out if you like family stories, are up for an exploration of tough topics, and have an affinity for the Emerald Isle.
Kevin Mahon was born and raised in the southern region of Ontario, Canada where he attended York University in Toronto, worked in the fashion industry, as well as being a songwriter/musician. He now resides in Austin, TX with his wife and 2 children where he works in the fitness industry and continues to write, perform & record music in addition to writing literary fiction. Kevin can be reached through his website: kevinmahon.com
- Publisher : BookBaby (May 1 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1098305922
- ISBN-13 : 978-1098305925
Melanie Bell grew up in rural Prince Edward Island, Canada. The author of a short story collection, Dream Signs, and a nonfiction book, The Modern Enneagram, she got her start self-publishing poetry books as charity fundraisers. She has worked as a freelance and in-house editor taught writing at Academy of Art University in San Francisco and written for magazines, websites, and anthologies such as Cicada, Autostraddle, Contrary, Huffington Post. She is a certified teacher of the Enneagram personality typology.