Monday 24 October 2016

Fiction: American Doll by James Lawless

CreateSpace, €10.99

Anne Cunningham

Published 29/08/2016 | 02:30

American Doll by James Lawless
American Doll by James Lawless

Danny Faraday meets Laura Calane,an Irish-American postgrad student in Trinity, and their attraction is instant. Laura is beautiful and enigmatic and plays infuriating mindgames. Her father Con dislikes Danny because Danny doesn't hate Muslims. Con is poisoned with hate. An ex-fireman, he was on duty on 9/11 and lost his wife in the tragedy. His fireman brother Thady saved Con's life that day and sometime later Thady retired to live in Ireland. Laura visits Thady regularly. And therein lies the problem…

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Danny has suffered his own tragedy, losing his parents in a plane crash and still feels vaguely responsible. Laura and Danny commence a relationship fraught with trouble, in which Thady plays his part. If this book hadn't been published in 2016, with Donald Trump feeding on the bloodlust and paranoia of so many white Americans, one could be forgiven for thinking the plot is a tad far-fetched. But Lawless has his finger on the pulse of post-9/11 America, and his depiction of the bitterness and paranoia within Laura's family is - in the context of Trump's rise to prominence - frightening.

Laura is less convincing, alas. She is a fruitcake, while Danny is an even-minded man. A bit haunted maybe, but aren't we all? Therefore I didn't hold out much hope for their strange coupling. However, this is an excellent novel by an award-winning writer, highly praised by the likes of Jennifer Johnston.

James Lawless deserves to be more widely read than he is.

Sunday Independent

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