HISTORY OF THE RAIN

13 Dec
Bloomsbury USA/a trademark of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. 2014 Hardcover fiction  (eccentric narrative in form) 355 pages Superbly edited by copyeditor Sarah-Jane Forder

Bloomsbury USA/a trademark of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. 2014
Hardcover fiction (eccentric narrative in form) 355 pages
Superbly edited by copyeditor Sarah-Jane Forder

This book is haunting. It carries a soft strange tune. Strange not as in weird, but as in different. Niall Williams writes this book in the voice of an Irish female character: his words, his tone, and the expressions. As I read it, I can actually hear Ruth Swain’s Irish accent.

History of the Rain, exquisitely written, was to be my downstairs read, but somehow, it followed me to my sleeping quarters upstairs, breaking a cardinal rule: when reading two books at the same time, one will only be read at night, the other during the day.

The literary anecdotes, ancestral timeline, and the sheer heartbreak of this young narrator writing in her own style, regardless of grammatical rules, is a page turner. Ruthie Swain is a young adult confined to her attic room, in a small Irish fishing town, surrounded by all her father’s books, all 3900+ of them. Books she inherited. Books that will help her understand her father, a poet who loves writing so much that he forgets everything around him.

“When I call my father Virgil Swain, I think he’s a story. I think I invented him. I think maybe I never had a father and in the gap where he should be I have put a story. ….. human beings are not seamless smooth creatures, they have insoluble parts and the closer you look the more mysterious they become.” pg 169

In search of her father, we meet Ruthie’s grandfather who wrote a book about ‘The Salmon in Ireland’. A book which we are privy to read in short excerpts, a little at a time, in sporadic chapters of this book-in-hand. There is a method to the madness. Trust me.

At first, whilst reading, I had to find out who the heck edited this book, because something wasn’t right here: capital letters mid sentence; punctuation marks askew; and, strange goings-on with style and structure. I can be so dense sometimes. This is a book you will want to read again. Not because of the nuances you want to catch second time around, but because you just don’t want to let go of Ruthie.

My favorite part among favorites, is how she describes ‘her’ books:

“I love the feel of a book. I love the touch and smell and sound of the pages. I love the handling. A book is a sensual thing. You sit curled in a chair with it or like me you take it to bed and it’s, well, enveloping. Weird I am. I know. What the hell? As Bobby Bowe says to everything. You either get it or you don’t.” pg 62

EXACTLY!

Niall Williams (1958 - ) Dublin, Republic of Ireland MA Modern American Literature/University College Dublin Longlisted in July 2014 for the Man Booker Prize for fiction

Niall Williams (1958 – ) Dublin, Republic of Ireland
MA Modern American Literature/University College Dublin
Longlisted in July 2014 for the Man Booker Prize for fiction

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One Response to “HISTORY OF THE RAIN”

  1. v December 13, 2014 at 8:59 p12 #

    Want!

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