Alexander Vespucci works as an economist and lives with his girlfriend in a basement apartment in Rathmines. He enjoys horse riding on weekends and meets up with his friends after work for a few sociable pints. On the surface, he is your average guy in his mid thirties, coasting through life and making all the right decisions. He’s the type you’d expect to end up in a large house in suburbia in a few years, with a couple of kids and the perfect wife. His life should consist of dinner parties and the occasional weekend break to Europe, sampling all that life has to offer and all that he’s worked for. But something within Alexander seems to fight against his current condition, he seems to lapse and to focus on the trivial, to try and make the wrong decisions and to break free of his fate of ‘the perfect life’.
This is the first novel by Diarmuid O Conghaile, a writer who studied Economics at Trinity college, before working for the European Commission and the Irish government. He’s clearly writing about a world he knows, and from that respect the majority of the characters ring true. The personalities and events in the novel are expanded for comedic effect, but they are believable and well crafted. At times the novel is very humorous, and it is has some great moments.
The book is broken into three sections that take place over the course of a year, where Alexander’s life changes radically. This is not the type of novel with a grand storyline, and the events that take place are those that happen to everyone. People live, love, marry, break up and die, and all in a quite natural fashion, if a little accelerated. This is a book that dwells on the common place events in life, and draws great humour from them. The novel is set in the Celtic Tiger era, while the bubble was still visibly expanding, and there is a knowing wink to the cronyism and back handed politics that have left us in our current economic plight.
As the main character is of a similar background to myself, it was interesting to see the world that Ó Conghaile has created. While there is an over emphasis on a drinking culture which is a little annoying and unrealistic, otherwise the novel achieves something quite special, and gives a voice to those disaffected 30 somethings that are thinking ‘is this it?’.
Being Alexander is published by New Island and costs €13.99.
Diarmuid Ó Conghaile takes part in “Lunchtime Readings: Making Their Debut – Siobháin Bunni, Elske Rahill, Diarmuid O’Conghaile, Kimberly Campanello”
When: Friday, 15 November at 12:15-12:50
Where: Boys School, Smock Alley – Cost: Free Entry
Categories: Book Reviews, Books
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