A Man with one of those Faces by Caimh McDonnell is a most excellent read. McDonnell has a rare talent as an author – he manages to tick four important boxes: accessibility, authenticity, characterisation and being extremely funny.
The pages to this book almost turn themselves and because of his great eye for the minutiae of life every scene feels very real. In contrast to some books, where all but the main people seem like shadows, each person has the feel of an individual actual real person and above all McDonnell has injected some amazing humour into the story. Getting the comedy balance right in a book is a tricky business. Jerome K Jerome’s Three men in a boat and Spike Milligan’s books have a laugh on nearly every line, but at the expense of readability. One can get laughed out very quickly after a short period, making the work something that you dip into. Instead the comedy in A man with one of those Faces is more evenly spaced and readability doesn’t suffer. If anything, it encourages you to keep turning the page in search of the next belly laugh.
The story is gripping and there are no huge leaps of logic or plausibility. McDonnell doesn’t indulge the reader with great masses of exposition and one is left to discover the answers to questions as you proceed through the book and this is a very nice touch. All questions and queries are eventually addressed and nothing is left hanging, which makes for a very satisfying story.
This is a wonderful book and come Christmas I can easily see myself buying a few copies for my friends as this is a work than I think most people will enjoy reading. I’d love to see it turned into a mini-series as a film wouldn’t do the story justice. Brendan Gleeson would be a shoo in for playing Bunny McGarry, although I do understand that Colin Farrell is rumoured to be interested….