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Word Count: 1,368
I think sometimes youre possessed says the narrators mother when he probes her about family history Cant you just let the past be past Like everyone else in this family from Derry Northern Ireland the narrator in Seamus Deanes Reading in the Dark is haunted by the past Unlike his parents who harbor secrets they cannot tell each other the narrator is determined to unearth the story behind his familys unspoken anguish These family secrets are inseparable from Northern Irelands violent political history and from the national culture of storytelling in which ghosts and hauntings are part of everyday life The narrative covers the period 1945 to 1971 Although Reading in the Dark is a novel it is written like a memoir constructed from brief distilled childhood recollections These short often unrelated chapters fit together like pieces of a jigsaw gradually filling in the gaps of family history The narrator tells of his fascination with an Irish novel about the great rebellion of 1798 and how his reading of it was interrupted when his brother insisted he turn off the light In the dark he would go on reading the novel in his mind as he imagined ways the plot might proceed He is similarly in the dark about his family until he gleans bits of information about his fathers brother Eddie and the reasons behind the family feud The act of storytelling is central to the novel because of the political and emotional consequences of telling the truth Each level of truth the narrator uncovers puts greater distance between he and his parents In the opening chapter his mother sees a ghost on the staircase landing Theres something between us A shadow she says This shadow foreshadows what is to come when the boy learns about his mothers past Storytelling becomes a form of confession when the boys grandfather on his deathbed reveals that Eddie was mistakenly executed by the IRA as
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