Women's lives are etched by deprivation, but also splashed by beauty, sometimes even joy, as they search for the good in the cards they've been dealt. A wife is abandoned by her new husband in a derelict housing estate. An expectant mother's worst fears about her husband's entanglement with a teenage girl are confirmed. A sister is tormented by visions of the man her brother murdered during the Troubles. A woman struggles to forgive herself after an abortion threatens to destroy her marriage.
These gritty stories are marked by dark wit and avid artistry. Nothing is sugarcoated in this collection, set in an Ireland in which the compromised present sits adjacent to, and often on top of, an ancient past ... The world might well end in a cul-de-sac, but endings in this collection yield the beginnings of insight, awareness, and spiky, wry humor. Layering past with present, and defeat with determination, The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac abounds with details of the flora, fauna, and folklore of Ireland — and is rich, too, in its exploration of men and women, their roles and cohabitation of complicated, troubled lives. Out of all this, the gimlet-eyed Kennedy gives us, to echo Welty, literature with backbone.
Kennedy's approach to the roots of suffering offers a refreshing change ... Kennedy packs these stories with life, but I'd welcome an entire novel about the future of Mairead and several others she introduces in these entrancing tales.