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Cal by Bernard MacLaverty

Set in the Northern Ireland of the 1980’s Cal tells the story of a young Catholic man living in a Protestant area For Cal some choices are devastatin. Bernard Mac Laverty s Cal is one of the best anti war novels I have read It is about a civil war the Catholics fighting for freedom from British rule Nationalists vs the Protestant Loyalists in northern Ireland with the Brit forces policing the cities where these troubles are taking their toll Americans are familiar with the fighting between friends and relatives who have chosen sides in the Union vs confederacy bloodbath In Cal we see how one s own confederates are eually destructive to a decent young man s survivalIt s the militant atmosphere that makes Cal suffer He is sensitive music loving thoughtful person who cannot join his dad in a job in a slaughterhouse Ironically he lives in one Loyalists which had for years been on friendly terms with Cal in his Belfast neighborhood Nationalist Catholics cannot prevent paramilitary from burning out Cal and his fatherIt s an atmosphere which resembles the Sunni Shiite divide in Ira deliberately exacerbated during Bushwar just as the Brits worked with the warring sides during the Troubles setting up prisons where only Catholic nationalists were interned and without trial That was their version of the later US 2011 military administration act doing away with habeas corpus Mac Laverty shows exactly what yer either for us or agin us means It means it is impossible to live as any human being has the inalienable right to After the burning of Cal s house his father loses his self respect and identity Cal must or risk being murdered drive a car for his boyhood friend Crilly whose sadism finds release in killing Loyalists No one in this kind of militant culture has any choice It has little to do with the ideology of conflict It is about being part of a machine If you saw the penultimate episode of Mad Men you know what various Korean vets and Don Draper himself had to do to get to go home Since Cal is intelligent he suffers self hate and despair Two of the men Crilly kills while Cal drives him are closely related to Marcella a librarian for whom he carries a torch He cannot tell her after he and she get to meet and make love Now the situation becomes intolerable for Cal due to the next plan of Crilly sThis novel is powerfully relevant to today s militancies in PalestineIsrael and with the blowback to the war in IraCal finds a way to protect Marcella Temporarily at least He also faces a reckoning with himself with Crilly with the Brits and their internment Read to the end and decide which is worse the paramilitary forces slaughterhouse or the state of Cal s soul bc he came to maturity during the troubles Compare Cal with the souless children of a militant father in the film The White Ribbon with the intelligent young student in a military school Musil s The Confusions of Young Torless who writes objective observations in his notebook while his buddies torture and sodomize another student whom Torless although because he also is sexually drawn to the hapless victim does not lift a finger to help him or with Frank in Simenon s The Snow Was Black whose impassivity in his occupied city is due to his inability to accept feeling Cal I think does much better maybe although he might actually welcome what is coming to him

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The fear and violence of Ulster Cal is a haunting love story that unfolds in a land where tenderness and innocence can only flicker briefly in the dar. I read Cal 1983 by Bernard MacLaverty for my book groupLast year I read and loved Milkman 2018 by Anna Burns which is a highly original take on the Troubles in Northern Ireland and one of the best books I have ever read Cal is also set in the Troubles and is a bleak portrait of Cal a young Catholic man who lives with his father in a Protestant area He s on the fringes of the IRA however after participating in political violence he is trying to distance himself from them Sadly his options are very limited and this novel gives the reader an insight into a grim predicament along with a tantalising glimpse of what might have beenCal is a short and powerful novel but its abrupt ending left me wanting Ultimately it felt a bit inconseuential and a bit of a missed opportunity particularly when compared with Milkman which makes so much of similar material 35The blurb Set in the Northern Ireland of the 1980s Cal tells the story of a young Catholic man living in a Protestant area For Cal some choices are devastatingly simple he can work in an abattoir that nauseates him or join the dole ueue he can brood on his past or plan a future with MarcellaSpringing out of the fear and violence of Ulster Cal is a haunting love story that unfolds in a land where tenderness and innocence can only flicker briefly in the dark Burning Attraction read Cal 1983 by Bernard MacLaverty for my book groupLast year I The Numbers Game read and loved Milkman 2018 by Anna Burns which is a highly original take on the Troubles in Northern Ireland and one of the best books I have ever Tall man riding. read Cal is also set in the Troubles and is a bleak portrait of Cal a young Catholic man who lives with his father in a Protestant area He s on the fringes of the IRA however after participating in political violence he is trying to distance himself from them Sadly his options are very limited and this novel gives the The 7 Components of Transformative Organizing Theory reader an insight into a grim predicament along with a tantalising glimpse of what might have beenCal is a short and powerful novel but its abrupt ending left me wanting Ultimately it felt a bit inconseuential and a bit of a missed opportunity particularly when compared with Milkman which makes so much of similar material 35The blurb Set in the Northern Ireland of the 1980s Cal tells the story of a young Catholic man living in a Protestant area For Cal some choices are devastatingly simple he can work in an abattoir that nauseates him or join the dole ueue he can brood on his past or plan a future with MarcellaSpringing out of the fear and violence of Ulster Cal is a haunting love story that unfolds in a land where tenderness and innocence can only flicker briefly in the dark

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Gly simple he can work in an abattoir that nauseates him or join the dole ueue; he can brood on his past or plan a future with MarcellaSpringing out of. This is a very moving sensual love story between a young Catholic man and a widow about 9 years older than the man It is also about the deeds and regrets of the same young Catholic man in Northern Ireland during The Troubles Extremely well told


10 thoughts on “Cal by Bernard MacLaverty

  1. says:

    It's a depressing story about life in Northern Ireland in the '80's If a Catholic is living in a mainly Protestant area he's asking for trouble Cal tries to hold his own in the environment of the TroublesHad it been a film it would have been in black and white

  2. says:

    A bleak portrait of a young Catholic man Cal living with his father in a Protestant Housing Development in Northern Ireland Cal's life is one of poverty living on the dole and going nowhere fast Cal is involved on the fringes of the IRA but an act of violence wants him away from the conflictWell written but short novel of the conflict how the ties that bind you to an area people are difficult near impossible to walk away from A short nov

  3. says:

    Bernard Mac Laverty’s Cal is one of the best anti war novels I have read It is about a civil war the Catholics fighting for freedom from British rule Nationalists vs the Protestant Loyalists in northern Ireland with the Brit forces policing the cities where these “troubles” are taking their toll Americans are familiar with the fighting

  4. says:

    This is a very moving sensual love story between a young Catholic man and a widow about 9 years older than the man It is also about the deeds and regrets of the same young Catholic man in Northern Ireland during The Troubles Extremely well tol

  5. says:

    Cal the central character of this book is Catholic Living with his father in Ulster Northern Ireland in a Protestant housing estate during the

  6. says:

    The mid 70's to early 80's was a time fraught with danger in Northern Ireland As an expat living and working in England I am well versed to understand the mindset of the various embattled groups that continued to carry on a war of attrition not only against the so called enemy police and army but eually against each other and if you happen

  7. says:

    I read this uite a number of years ago but the plot has always stayed with me the mark of a good book generally The truth is I thought Neil G

  8. says:

    As Catholics Cal McCluskey and his father are a rarity in their community and fear attacks on their home Resistant to join his father in working at the local abattoir Cal spends his days doing odd jobs and lurking around the public library – he has a crush on a married librarian named Marcella Aimless and impressionable he’s ea

  9. says:

    I read Cal 1983 by Bernard MacLaverty for my book groupLast year I read and loved Milkman 2018 by Anna Burns which is a highly original take on the Troubles in Northern Ireland and one of the best books I have ever read Cal is also set in th

  10. says:

    I like McLaverty's writing a lot This is the first one I read I thought I'd put it on GR but apparently not A tense superior novel set in Northern Ireland during the troubles in the 70s Try his stories recently read 'Matters of Life and Death' which has two great stories it I don't know how to put links in or italics come to that

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