Essays on the Fiction of Colum McCann
Edited By Susan Cahill and Eóin Flannery
Anne Fogarty ‘An Instance of Concurrency’: Transnational Environments in Zoli and Let the Great Wor
Anne Fogarty ‘An Instance of Concurrency’: Transnational Environments in Zoli and Let the Great World Spin Colum McCann’s Songdogs culminates with a plangent but layered moment of epiphany in which Conor the protagonist arrives at an unanticipated understanding of the father from whom he remains estranged. In this final scene, his ailing but stubborn parent loses himself in the pleasure of fishing, an obdurate pastime he has pursued throughout his son’s return visit to Ireland. The sighting of a salmon in the polluted river which runs past the family home in Mayo yields a moment of ecstasy. The glimpse of this fish ‘contorted and unchoreographed in its spin’ allows for a rare, delicately poised and f leeting coming together of these two inveterately divided figures.1 The toxic landscape permits what the narrator elsewhere in the text dubs an ‘instance of concurrency’.2 The salmon acts as a cipher for Juanita, Conor’s missing mother, whom he persistently mourns and for whose disappearance he blames his father. The pleasure and pain that both men conjointly associate with this woman who at once cross-connects and separates them are inscribed in this evocative but polluted natural scene in West of Ireland which, moreover, resonates with the other haunting and resolutely non-picturesque outdoors spaces in Spain and in Mexico with which both men are intrinsically linked. Characteristically, insight is realized through a poetics of place that articulates itself through images of defilement and abjection rather than sentimental or romanticized visions of beauty. This essay sets out...
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