I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Lost on Leeside

Lost on Leeside

Carol Taaffe
The Blood Miracles, by Lisa McInerney, John Murray, 304 pp, £14.99, ISBN: 978-1444798890 In 2015 Lisa McInerney made her widely-acclaimed fiction debut with The Glorious Heresies, a story of Cork gangsters and post-bailout Ireland which won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Desmond Elliot Prize for first novels. But she was no debut writer: for the previous six years she had been running the successful Arse End of Ireland blog as “Sweary Lady”, her online persona hinting at the energy and invention she would soon bring to her fiction. Her second novel, The Blood Miracles, returns to the streets of Cork and the cast of The Glorious Heresies. Ryan Cusack, its fifteen-year-old drug dealer, is now pushing twenty-one and at a turning point. He has just come out of hospital confused, defeated and depressed. His burgeoning relationship with Karine D’Arcy was one of the focal points of The Glorious Heresies; now, after six years, it is threatening to come to an end. Just as she is losing faith in Ryan’s desire to break free from the Cork underworld, a bad deal draws its intricate net even more tightly around him. This is a tale of two cities: of skinny-trousered baristas and scarf-wearing students on the one side, and boys like Ryan who trade chaotic and deprived homes for a young dealer’s swagger on the other. But The Blood Miracles shows again and again how these separate worlds depend on each other. Ryan’s dealing is the business of fledging savages the world over: he facilitates the movement of illegal inebriants from his foolhardy class into the hands and mouths and nostrils of those who should know better. He feigns a swagger to hide the fact that he doesn’t breathe easy and doesn’t sleep well. As the novel opens he is struggling just to survive. Recently recovered from an overdose, Ryan has been gifted a rebirth, of sorts, but new beginnings are not easy. There are generational binds and loyalties to trap him; he carries the weight of his parents’ history; and there is always the allure that Cork’s underworld has for “those who should know better”. The Blood Miracles is in some ways a familiar coming-of-age tale: its hero is lost and confused, unsure of who he might be. Ryan might be a victim of circumstance – or perhaps he just wants to believe that he is. Raised by an alcoholic and abusive father, he has long…

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