Bernard Mac Laverty

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Patricia Craig

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 163

[The stories in Secrets and Other Stories are] completely without affectation or self-indulgence. The themes are simple—loyalty and its failures, compromise, apprehensions of one kind or another. Apart from the boy whose excessive holiness sometimes causes involuntary levitation, the central characters are all unremarkable, but they are presented with that kind of dispassionate authority that makes them stay in the reader's mind.

The settings in time are the 1950s and the present, but the current abnormality of life in Belfast is not stressed. Soldiers in the streets make no more dramatic statement than 'Wot?' when a drunken layabout assures them that they are doing a grand job. Yet their presence has ominous implications and these are summed up in single observation. In 'Between Two Shores', young girls giggling at soldiers are ignored: 'Soldiers before them had chased it and ended up dead or maimed for life'. (p. 49)

Patricia Craig, "Stories of Ulster," in Books and Bookmen, Vol. 23, No. 8, May. 1978, pp. 48-9.∗

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WILLIAM DeMERITT