Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday Snippet: Hand in the Fire by Hugo Hamilton

Hand in the Fire tells the story of Vid Cosic, a Serbian immigrant to Ireland, and his relationship with the dysfunctional Concannon family who befriend him. Binding them together in a strange and strained embrace are four violent incidents - the death of Cosic's parents in a car crash in Serbia, the drowning of a pregnant, unmarried young woman off the Conemara coast, a drunken brawl that leaves a man with a broken jaw and hip, and fists thrown in the break-up of a troubled marriage. I bought it as in impulse buy in The Reading Room in Carrick-on-Shannon based on the strength of the opening few lines. And here they are:

You have a funny way of doing things here.

Like friendship, for example.

Nobody does friendship like you do in this country. It comes out of nowhere. Full on. All or nothing. I've been to places where friendship is cultivated with great care over a longer period of time, like a balcony garden. Here it seems to grow wild.

You could say that I did him a small favour. I found his mobile phone lying in the street and contacted his girlfriend. Her name was Helen and there was a picture of her on the phone, laughing into the camera. I could have read through all her messages, but I didn't want to be intrusive. I contacted her and arranged for him to pick it up that same evening. It was nothing more than that. Anyone else would have done the same.
I waited outside a late-night shop and saw him walking towards me with a big smile as though we already knew each other. He thanked me and stood there, refusing to let me go. Before I knew it, he was returning the favour, shaking hands and leading me away to a bar for a drink.

I read the story in several sittings over one day and I'll post my review sometime this week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rob - Thanks for sharing those opening lines. I agree; they are intriguing. I like the premise, too, and I look forward to reading your full review.