The Far Side of Happiness.
A blend of sixteen ingenious short stories - It felt like I was careering through a trapdoor into several different moods, the more I got into this particular book!
One great story "Who knows Bernard Ashe" - a young man appearing self-actualised in his own Parisian world. A deceptively simple story, demonstrating controlled relationships and ongoing grapples with manipulations. Somehow this story manages to express my own coiled desires about living.
The jewel in the crown for me is "Bridie's Birthday" – it has an “Esiot Trot” calibre, yet I feel it leaves Roald Dahl trailing a little behind Gerry Boland.
My favourite line in the book was from "Carlow" - "Joe only saw the surfaces in people; he wasn't literate in the language of interiors".
This story was garnished with seductive intimations and intricate descriptions. I found myself even more alert than usual while reading!
This observation gave permission for affairs to play out and reveal a very sublime 3D scenario, which I’m sure would be quite unheard of in Catholic rural Ireland!
"Watching The Virginian" is a grim tragedy, a fly in the ointment per se, cleverly nose-dived right into the centre of the book! It took on a concave feel for me - people are shy of truth and I feel Boland's bravely written undercurrent, shows off the wolf in his work.
I felt the Writer was very grounded in his accounting of "The Far Side Of Happiness".
This storyline is the game changer for me, and it sits very well at the end of the book. A man's search for "be-longing" with no back door. It left me feeling very contemplative, as it knits the entire book together.
This collection of timeless Short Stories is by no means a walk in a sunny park, it bleeds plenty of emotion, and for me, Gerry Boland as a Writer, certainly owns the stage, exhorting hidden moods which sweep up and vibrates any reader's spine, with his eclectic writing style.
Although each story has its own tempered fire in a nutshell, yet I am left to wonder of the Writer, if in the end, Bernard Ashe ever did manage to get his act together, or will he remain, stealthily, the envy of most of the human race and beyond, including myself!
By Irene Feeney
The Far Side of Happiness is published by Arlen House and costs €15. Signed copies can be purchased in The Reading Room and some other local outlets. It's also available online at kennys.ie and bookdepository.com
Gerry Boland is a poet and author of nine published books. He has wide experience of leading writing workshops. Since moving from Dublin to north Roscommon he has focused on writing poetry and short stories for adults and for young readers. His first collection of short stories, The Far Side of Happiness, was launched in December 2017, in King House and in The Dock.