{ePUB} The Blackwater LightshipAuthor Colm Tóibín – Moncler2018.co

It s the story of an Irish family that is as fractured as it could possibly be, brought reluctantly together by the tragedy of a son brother dying of Aids Heartbreaking and devastating, and it will leave you drained at the end.4.5 stars for what may be Toibin s best novel. In 1993, homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland and it is also important to note that at this time, the world was in the midst of the AIDS epidemic This is the backdrop against which The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin takes place It was the end of another school year and Helen, a school principal in Dublin, was looking forward to a holiday with her husband and two young children That holiday, however, would have to wait Paul, a longtime friend of Helen s brother Declan, arrived on her doorstep and he brought bad news Declan had sent him to request that Helen come to St James Hospital Declan was being treated for one of those opportunistic infections which AIDS patients were often afflicted with In fact, this infection was the latest of many such infections Declan had battled and his health had seriously deteriorated Although Helen was shocked, not only by Declan s illness, but also by his sudden coming out to her, she agreed to drive to their granny s seaside home to make the request that Declan and his two longtime friends and caregivers, Paul and Larry, be permitted to spend time there convalescing in familiar surroundings because it was clear that Declan was near the end of his life IT was to be Helen s responsibility to tell both her Granny Dora and her mother Lily about the seriousness of Declan s illness On the drive to her granny s house, Helen ruminated on her estrangement from her family and it is through these ruminations that you discover that not only were Helen and Declan not particularly close but Helen s granny and her mother had not been invited to her wedding and they had never met her children The three women in this family were strong, stubborn and opinionated and possessed very long memories The slights, harsh words and unreasonable expectations that had been exchanged over the years were never far removed from any of them Helen had been holding tight to her resentment toward her mother, recalling that the family members estrangement began when she and Declan were children and they had stayed with their granny and granddad while their father had entered the hospital ostensibly for tests Helen recalled that she and Declan had stayed at the seaside house for weeks, all the while being reassured that her parents would return home soon but their father never returned and her father s death, the subsequent lack of explanation of his death and the total lack of any comfort from her mother marked, for Helen, the beginning of the disintegration of the relationship between them I found this book so compelling because it demonstrated so beautifully that no matter how complicated and contentious relationships become between family members no matter how strained and frayed these bonds may get there is often the hope and expectation that when a member of this complex unit of people bound together by blood and history, needs assistance and nurturing, that somehow the members find a way to push aside their feelings of resentment and bitterness and rise to the occasion As this story demonstrated so vividly, this process is never easy or pretty and is almost always quite painful but Declan was dying and he needed the comfort of his family.Although Declan was never really developed as a character, there was an obvious childlike quality about him a trusting and acceptance of the three difficult women in his life that never wavered, which I believe makes him so essential to this story Declan s illness and his desire to spend his last days at his granny s house is the catalyst that the three women need to once and for all, put aside their resentment and come together because what they share a love for Declan is far greater than all the negativity that has kept them apart all of these years Just as the death of Helen and Declan s father all those years before had brought silence and resentment, Declan s death might be what finally fixes what has been broken in this family And just as Granny s house, perched so precariously at the edge of the cliff, had weathered the stormy seas all of those years so too would the family weather its own storms The Blackwater Lightship, to me, was a testament to the power of love and the bonds that may be forged by family. There are three contemporary authors writing in English whom I find extraordinarily engaging Cormac McCarthy, Tim Winton and Colm T ib n They are all stylistically brilliant and all three weave worlds that address significant issues regarding the human condition All, also, have received significant recognition for the quality of their production Among that recognition, McCarthy by Pulitzer Winton and T ib n , by Man Booker.Cormac McCarthy s writing is probably the unconventional He is less attentive to traditional grammar, punctuation and style And the worlds he created are categorically darker, disheartening Even in the comparatively brighter Border Trilogy brighter than, say, The Orchard Keeper , No Country for Old Men or Blood Meridian , John Grady Cole and Billy Parham in the final volume are clearly marching into the postapocalyptic future of The Road Hope and redemption dissipate in the ravaged earth.Hope or at least thoughtful resignation and conditional redemption survive in Tim Winton and in Colm T ib n s worlds The futures their people face are not suffocatingly black It would be difficult to imagine one of McCarthy s people writing about his life in retrospect as did Bruce Pike in Breath And though I ve lived to be an old man with my own share of happiness for all the mess I made Tim Winton, compared to McCarthy is a academic writer at least in terms of the mechanics of writing But like McCarthy, his prose is ultimately lyrical It is clear and expressive beautifully poetic that never misses a beat So is T ib n s writing poetic T ib n s writing, however, is also elliptical than that of the other two writers It moves quietly stealthfully page to page, focusing on what appears to be the mundane, on minutiae In The Blackwater Lightship , T ib n describes, at the beginning of the novel, Helen s preparations for a party The preparations seem to be limited to the delivery and the final pick up of chair and tables But that economy of description ultimately explodes in the reader than the words would seem to do T ib n , with his words, is a bit like Picasso with his brushes during his cubist period He throws them out on the page, seemingly disordered and unrelated but re structured to have them recomposed in the reader s mind, infused with sudden insights and complex visions.The physical environment also plays a different role with each of the three For Winton, the physical environment is integral to his plots With the exception of The Riders , his novels unfold in Western Australia in the narrow stretch of land sandwiched between the western sea and the eastern desert It is a within that littoral that the bulk of Western Australians live But that said, the waters of the ocean and of the rivers that empty into it are a living presence in Winton s writings In Breath , the ocean and its waters dominate But they play a role in his other works as well, linked often to the very souls of his characters.In contrast to Winton, the physical environment for McCarthy and T ib n are simply stages on which their stories unfold McCarthy s plots play out in specific regions in the United States in the Appalachians and, starting with Blood Meridian, the American Southwest and Northern Mexico T ib n is varied, with stories set in Argentina, the United States and Europe But To b n and McCarthy s characters are not entwined inexorably to their environments as are Winton s For T ib n and McCarthy, place helps define the themes but it does not control them.With their differences, the three writers are similar in regard to their voices For example, T ib n s Blackwater Lightship , Brooklyn and The Story of the Night are about emotion, thought and communication than about action But the same is also true of McCarthy and Winton s novels All three tell engaging and compelling stories But those stories engage and compel because they embroil the reader in the very themes of life They all translate into words the same questions Paul Gauguin asked in paint Where do we come from What are we Where are we going Declan, approaching 30, is dying of AIDS in Southern Ireland His father had died young too, of cancer He wants to see that part of the coast he remembers as a child when he and his sister Helen stayed with their grandparents, throughout their father s prolonged final illness at hospital in Dublin It is in these waters that the Blackwater Lightship once shone, a secondary source of light alongside the powerful Tusker lighthouse.His mettlesome granny, Dora, now widowed, is host in her remote and shabby home to Declan and his entourage 2 gay friends, his mother Lily Dora s daughter and sister Helen The three women have an uneasy relationship, to say the least and those tensions build as Declan s illness progresses We gain an understanding of the reasons for this as Declan fights for life, reviving memories of his father s death and its effects on his family bitterness, recrimination and deep misunderstanding Laughter and tears will alternate throughout this deeply human situation,particularly in those last days at Granny s, something Toibin excels at portraying Such are his skills that his words will resonate, I suspect, with most of us If my own experience is anything to go by it will teach us things about ourselves and those near and far from us This is why he is one of my very favourite writers. An understated account of how a broken family begins to heal itself in the context of the return of a son dying of AIDS Helen, a teacher in the Dublin area, helps install her beloved brother Declan into the care of her mother and grandmother in a seashore village in southeastern Ireland The occasion makes her deal with the nearly decade long estrangement dating from the time when her father got cancer and her mother effectively took him away from her and her brother during his months of illness and left her and Declan in the care of the grandmother Slowly they begin to resolve the blocks to emotions about the source of the break, aided by the presence of two very different gay friends of Declan s who come to help The rocky shore, erosion by waves of the cliffs and houses, and a lighthouse provide a great backdrop for reflection and metaphors about life and death and human resilence The Blackwater Lightship was a lighthouse that is no longer there, while another remains, no longer sharing signals the one that disappeared I like the conception of nature telling us that we are almost nothing and not needed, leading us to solving the mysteries on our own Sort of like the Leonard Cohen line We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky That is just my take on the resonances and waves evoked by this spare family tale. In The Story of the Night, Colm T ib n told the stories of men living with AIDS in New York in the late 80s In The Blackwater Lightship, he transposes this storyline to Ireland in the late 90s, a vastly different setting Helen, a school principal, discovers that her brother Declan is in hospital with AIDS She has to work out how to tell their mother and grandmother about his diagnoses which he s apparently had for years Published just six years after Ireland s decision to decriminalise homosexuality, I feel that its effect was profound and radical in the late 90s than it is now in 2015 The Blackwater Lightship is somewhat of a companion to The Heather Blazing They are both set in the same area with the Redmond s from Blazing turning up again here Both novels perfectly encapsulate 90s Ireland, the sensibilities and the lavishness Characters are school principals and lawyers, they live in noisy cities while their parents are held up in crumbing houses in the countryside The clash of the nouveau riche with old Catholic Ireland play central parts in both novels The character of the grandmother in The Blackwater Lightship is just fantastic, she binds these two generations together with flawless comical insights She is the typical Irish grandmother, an embracer, a voice of solace.I do think this is the superior novel to The Heather Blazing, it is a novel about family, whether they be nuclear or non traditional It s about who we really go to in our hours of need and who we share our lives with, whether we be stable or crumbling away, into the waves. Helen lives a predictable, pleasant life, until suddenly a stranger turns up and tells her that her brother is sick is, in fact, dying of AIDS in a nearby hospital Declan wants to stay in their grandmother s cottage while he recuperates from his latest hospital stay His sister, mother, and grandmother are thus thrown together in a small sea shore cottage, forced into close quarters after a decade of estrangement Two of his friends come to keep him company and look after his health, causing further moments of awkwardness.Basically, six adults hang around a cottage for a few days, constantly splitting off to have one on one conversations with each other about the others, and about the past Helen resents her mother who resents her own mother, and they all talk and think about it endlessly Maybe these ruminations on what to do when you don t like or emotionally trust your family would feel poignant or important if I identified with them As it was, it was all just really boring Helen would walk along the shore, think about how cold the water looked, how strong and enduring the cliffs looked, and then come to some minor realization about her feelings for her mother I resented her for not being around when my father died, she realizes wonderingly Rinse, repeat Thrilling stuff.My boredom with the complete lack of plot or conflict might have been alleviated if the characters read believably But alas, they re written, particularly Declan, Lily, and Dora, with broad strokes mixed with minutia By the end of the book I knew that Declan liked self service restaurants as a child, disliked carrots, and feared escalators, but I still had no idea what he did for a living, how he d made the friends he did, or even his hobbies It felt like his sole purpose in the story was to suffer and force Helen and their mother to have uncomfortable emotional moments together He never felt like a person in his own right Although I felt T ib n relied too heavily on the sea and the lighthouse as metaphors, without doing any heavy lifting of his own, some of the writing is lovely But some is just crap An example She put the car into gear and drove it slowly to the barrier You need fifty pence Do you have a fifty pence piece she asked her mother.Her mother searched through her bag and found a purse with loose change She handed Helen a fifty pence piece and Helen opened the window and put it in the slot The barrier lifted We should have gone to the other car park, Helen said You don t have to pay there I assume he s trying to say something about the mundane details of survival persisting despite looming tragedy, but dear god is it boring to read. Not a good idea to finish the last 20 pages of this story at 5 00 AM before work I m wrecked and I look like hell The novel was wondrous I loved it and I ll review later. It Is Ireland In The Early S Helen, Her Mother, Lily, And Her Grandmother, Dora Have Come Together To Tend To Helen S Brother, Declan, Who Is Dying Of AIDS With Declan S Two Friends, The Six Of Them Are Forced To Plumb The Shoals Of Their Own Histories And To Come To Terms With Each OtherShortlisted For The Booker Prize, The Blackwater Lightship Is A Deeply Resonant Story About Three Generations Of An Estranged Family Reuniting To Mourn An Untimely Death In Spare, Luminous Prose, Colm T Ib N Explores The Nature Of Love And The Complex Emotions Inside A Family At War With Itself You can t go wrong reading one of Colin Toibin s books His elegant, understated, gorgeous writing style mesmerizes the reader This book also realistically deals with family and friends dealing with the imminent death of a beloved young man from AIDS The past and unresolved family issues are dealt with in an organic, natural manner Loved this book.