Virginia Barton

Playing a dull tune

Catholic Herald, 6 April 1990


 Review: Harp by John Gregory Dunne (Granta Books, £13.99)

Did you know that the word “harp” has another non-musical meaning in the States? Apparently, it is also a term of abuse for Irish Catholics living in America. Like much else in this book, this was alien to me.

As interested as the next man to know how other people tick, all my curiosity was smothered by a great ennui as I plodded alongside the author on a journey into his past. It’s a dreary, introspective tale, punctuated by various deaths in the author’s family. Even his own brush with the Grim Reaper failed to engage my interest.

Neither Ireland and America, nor Catholicism emerge with any charity – and the style is exasperating: a cocktail of incomprehensible argot, studied literariness, and foul language.


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