With "Cal," one feels again the "terrible beauty," in Yeats's phrase, born of Ireland's torments. Its power is all the more impressive because nothing in Bernard Mac Laverty's first novel, "Lamb" (1980), quite prepares one for the beauty of this novel, for the delicacy and poise of its account of a teenage boy's futile attempt to stay clear of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. "Lamb" was the expertly told but unbearably claustrophobic story of an Irish Christian Brother who flees from a reform school with a student he loves and eventually murders. "Cal"'s world is as harsh as its predecessor's, but whereas "Lamb" could only shock its readers, this novel has the capacity to move them.
The novel is...
(The entire section is 460 words.)