It’s one of those books that I saw in the library on one of my browse sessions. Ordinarily I just order all my library books or otherwise on line but once or twice a month I like to spend an hour or two in the library and in a book store, just to see what leaps out. Also to research trends.
The Bronx as you’ve guessed is the notorious den of iniquity at the top of New York City, or at least it was at the turn of the 1980s, when this book is set. ’Rockin’ refers to the music scene, as our much admired author is a musician. Kirwan’s novel tells of Sean arriving in The Bronx from Ireland looking for his Mary (because there aren’t any other Irish names) only to find out she is now stepping out with a local drug lord. The heartbreak doesn’t deter him from moving into the squalid squat which also houses Danny the pro IRA builder and the happy go lucky Kate. I can understand a little why he stayed for a while, to win her back but not sure why he stayed the best part of two years and tolerated their on/off relationship whilst watching her with his rival.
The band does get formed so there is some musicality but mostly it’s about all four roommates ending up in some kind of love rectangle and even with the peripheral characters, it took a while to like any of them so I found it hard to read in part. In all, the book took some time to really get into. I’m a good half way through before I stopped speed reading and skipping pages and it’s the only last third I looked forward to reading.
I’d not come across the author or his Black 47 band before, or indeed since and this book is brilliantly written. It’s just that all the drugs, alcohol, IRA talk and literally living in dirt left me, well feeling like I needed a shower. I would have liked more of the music.
7½/10 because it is so well written
Inspiration factor 7/10