Finbar's Hotel Author:Dermot Bolger (Editor) Finbar's Hotel, a novel in the form of seven linked stories by seven of Ireland's best contemporary novelists, Dermot Bolger, Joseph O'Connor, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Jennifer Johnston, Colm Toibin, — Famously gregarious, the Irish love a good story almost as much as a good argument.&... more »nbsp; This book brings together a good deal of distinctive writing with energy and charm, and surprising harmony, leaving readers to guess the identity of the author of each unsigned chapter.
The book begins with a renegade husband determined to spend a night on his own in a hotel before his life is over. Hapless and defensive, he can't locate the minibar he is convinced must exist; as he wanders through the corridors, and many of these chapters, he provides a comic counterpoint to some of the more serious moments. In one room, a dying woman skipping her cancer treatment finds an unexpected night of tenderness with an Irish Jewish tour guide. In another, we meet two sisters, one with a sad secret, who bicker over an estrangement in the family. Just down the hall is an electrician playing irritatingly loud music to drown out the cries of his ex-girlfriend's cat, which he has vengefully stolen.
In yet another room is an Irishwoman who has come over from her new home in America to see to her father's estate and perhaps revisit her past. Elsewhere, we encounter the sad-sack heir of the original proprietors of this once grand establishment. And at the very end of the book is perhaps the most interesting guest, an art thief with a Rembrandt and what might be a Vermeer. (Could these canvases be the ones still missing from the Gardner collection in Boston?)
Dermot Bolger contributed one of these chapters (perhaps the opening story about the hapless husband, Benny?) and devised and edited the entire volume. Obviously, the group novel can provide as much entertainment for its contributors as for its readers. The authors appear all together in one big bed on the back cover.
The group novel has been done before, of course. In 1989, the Newsday reporter Mike McGrady and 25 friends wrote "Naked Came the Stranger", a Jacqueline Susann parody published under the name Penelope Ashe. (The author photo was actually that of a hired model, described on the jacket as a "demure Long Island housewife") The book was an unexpected best seller and remained popular even after Ashe (who had made numerous author appearances) was unmasked.
And proving that even a parody can be parodied, in 1996 the mystery writer Carl Hiaasen enlisted 12 co-conspirators, including Dave Barry, Elmore Leonard and Edna Buchanan, to produce "Naked Came the Manatee". (You know you're in the parody Olympics when an entire book by big-name authors purports to be about a manatee named Booger.)« less