I am not sure how to react to Eimear McBride's 'The Lesser Bohemians'. ... This post has been sitting as a draft for a fortnight now and I just want to get the backlog of reviews done...
I was disappointed with this book, and that's a sad thing to say, because it was a lovely book. I did 'enjoy' it more than Girl (this is how Eimear referred to her first book) because it was a warm, mostly positive story, but it lacked something. It did not have the immediacy of Girl, it felt more like the character was relating something that had happened rather than the reader experiencing things in the moment that she managed to achieve so viscerally first time around. It was also the fact that where Girl was about one person, Lesser Bohemians was about two, and I felt the long section in the middle where the man describes his traumatic childhood distracted very much from the reader's experience of what the girl was thinking and feeling. It felt in someways to me, I'm sure others will disagree, that it could have been an alternative future for the girl in the first story. Eimear did talk about how she tried to link the two stories together, with dream elements (though I only noticed this occurring once, maybe I missed it). I found that I bonded much more with the male character (she did give them names but I forget now) over his loss of his daughter, and maybe he almost became a male version of the girl in Girl, falling into this terrible self-destructive behaviour to cope with the desolation he feels. She describes it as a love story, and at its very essence it is the ultimate love story, about no matter where your life has taken you love can redeem all you positive qualities and give you reasons to live.
Here he has snuck into her flat against the orders of a disapproving landlady:
"In the after, I listen to the rain. His breath on my shoulder That was great. And the is how I'd like the night to be - hours of lying here with him - but Don't sleep, I say You have to leave. don't send me back out there. Consider it a punishment for you sins! Bit I'll get up so early. No. An hour? No. Half? No. Five minutes more? Those five he get but after them Up. You're a hard woman, he says getting off, all reluctant. And so I am, watching hinders now in the dark. We kiss a good while though before my door shuts and I listen to no sound on the stairs. Practice makes perfect. But I go to my window. Heavy rain beyond and him coming out into it. Tugging up his collar. Lighting a cigarette. Look up look up. He looks up. I show a hand. In turn, he bows then goes out to the footpath. I follow him to the end of the street where he disappears round Our Lady Help of Christians. Then slip back into the smell of him on my sheets. Search out the last of his taste on my lips. Imagine that I'd kept him here. Then think of him, in the rain, out there. That could - if I wanted - make my heart a little break. but I don't want it to, so it does not." (p.80)