I don’t typically read literary fiction unless a class requires it. The stakes never seem high enough, the characters don’t interest me, and I get to the end of each page wondering why I should go on to the next.
You’d think I’d be just as unfazed by The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan–I don’t know anything about contemporary Ireland, or the financial collapse of the country. I’m also not familiar with Irish vernacular. How could I possibly read this book?
Each chapter puts us into the mind of a different character, slowly widening our view of how each person contributed to each other’s misery. A mother loves one child more than the other; that child grows into the most detestable boss; that boss hires the man everyone wishes they were; it never ends. And that’s what sets it apart from others in the genre. It reads more like a thriller.
Plenty of characters think about killing those who have sleighted them, and their violent daydreams are chilling. One moment Trevor talks about painting a woman’s window sills, the next he’s envisioning plunging his screwdriver into her eye. And then he wants the public to believe his mother is a witch so they won’t arrest him for murdering her.
Each chapter is full of wonderful things like that–things you might consider too exciting to exist in literary fiction. Maybe this book is too exciting for the genre. Or maybe I just haven’t read much literary fiction that I’ve enjoyed. Whatever the case may be, this book is well worth the read. It’s also the first book to bear my official stamp of approval!