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Download Epub Format ï The Fire Starters PDF by ï Jan Carson Spectacular At Once Grittily Real, Wildly Magical And Insanely Alluring A Siren Song Of A Novel DONAL RYAN A Brilliant, Wry Novel, Fizzing With Energy BARNEY NORRISDr Jonathan Murray Fears His New Born Daughter Is Not As Harmless As She SeemsSammy Agnew Is Wrestling With His Dark Past, And Fears The Violence In His Blood Lurks In His Son, TooThe City Is In Flames And The Authorities Are Losing Control As Matters Fall Into Frenzy, And As The Lines Between Fantasy And Truth, Right And Wrong, Begin To Blur, Who Will These Two Fathers Choose To Protect Dark, Propulsive And Thrillingly original, This Tale Of Fierce Familial Love And Sacrifice Fizzes With Magic And Wonder This is a power worth believing in I m not at all sad for Ella Penney I m sad for her parents who do not understand what they ve been given Who may well miss the most glorious part of her The Fire Starters, by Jan Carson, is a tale of two fathers struggling to gain control of events surrounding their offspring Set in contemporary East Belfast during an unusually long, hot summer it perfectly captures the voice, quirks and insular concerns of the local community There is a dash of magical realism that may be read as possibility or metaphor It all adds depth to a tale of parental concerns for children, who insist on developing as individuals despite best efforts to mould them as approved.
Dr Jonathan Murray is a single parent caring for his newborn daughter, Sophie Having been raised in the knowledge that his own parents had never planned to have a child, and then been left behind as a teenager when they emigrated to New Zealand, he has few pointers to good parenting other than practical knowledge gained from his profession.
Jonathan has little positive experience of any close relationship The few friendships he formed whilst at university bore little resemblance to those depicted on American television The time spent with Sophie s mother has left him afraid of the power their child may unleash as she develops.
Forced to return to work in order to pay the bills, Jonathan hires a nanny He takes what precautions he can to protect his child from outside influences but believes that, longer term,drastic measures will be necessary to keep the rest of the world safe from Sophie.
Sammy Agnew has a violent and bloody past that he put behind him when he and his wife had their children Two have now flown the nest but the eldest, Mark, still lives a nocturnal existence in the attic upstairs When local politicians decide to limit the height of the loyalist community s July bonfires citing health and safety there are calls for protest in the form of widespread arson attacks Sammy fears that Mark may have inherited the anger he himself, at times, can barely suppress and become involved in events that could lead to tragedy.
Growing everdespairing, Sammy seeks help from his doctor and thereby meets Jonathan Dr Murray has also recently been consulted by the mother of a child born with wings but who cannot fly Even in this small corner of the city he discovers there are numerous parents struggling to deal with children whose particular gifts, characteristics and behaviours cause them issues They do not fit within what society is willing to accept Despite this, Jonathan still regards Sophie as a special case He advises Sammy to act for the wider good The tension ratchets up as the reader realises how Jonathan plans to follow similar advice in dealing with Sophie.
The author has a knack for capturing the nuances of everyday conversation and activity Jonathan s interactions with the lady receptionists at his GP practice are a delight His discomfort in any company is astutely portrayed Sammy and his wife offer a picture of a long married couple who quietly coexist whilst longing for their past selves Every character, major and minor, adds to the humour and pathos redolent of this still troubled city.
There have been a number of novels published recently offering windows into life in Belfast the experience and legacy of The Troubles Those that I have read focused on areas to the west of the city The Fire Starters captures the idiosyncrasies of people living to the East from the narrow inner city terraces to theaffluent Castlereagh Hills The resentments and aspirations emanating from these streets are evoked with unstinting authenticity.
A delicious and layered tale written with a refreshing lightness that complements its originality and wit Playful yet piercing, this was a joy to read.
Northern Irish writer Jan Carson spins a offbeat and beguiling tale set in a East Belfast with its history of sectarianism, where the ghosts and DNA of its past conflicts infiltrates the present Social realism is blended with the colour and magic of the fantastical in the summer of the tall fires, incendiary sparks that grow, threatening to consume a Belfast with its growing tribe of the rebellious young They are following and emulating the anonymous young man starting and inciting fires in a YouTube video sound tracked by The Prodigy s The Fire Starter Sammy Agnew is married to Pam with 3 children, he has a history of being a bad man, a loyalist paramilitary terrorising Catholics with guns and burning their cars He has tried to escape his violent and brutal past by relocating the family to a better part of Belfast Dr Jonathan Murray was an unwanted solitary and lonely child, raised by parents who were entirely indifferent to him until they emigrate, intentionally leaving him behind.
A socially awkward Jonathan is unable to sustain relationships or function in social circles He finds himself bewitched by the siren call of a overweight mermaid, who leaves him upon giving birth to their daughter, Sophie Jonathan is simultaneously delighted and afraid of his baby daughter who fundamentally shifts the trajectory of his life for the better as he begins to interactsuccessfully with the outside world He hires Christine, a deaf nanny for Sophie whilst he frantically tries to enforce a world of silence, terrified of Sophie s potential for death, destruction, madness and mayhem Sammy recognises his son is a malignant force for evil, a son he deserves, a retribution for his own haunting and bloody past Jonathan finds some solace in discovering Sophie is not alone as he encounters parents with their own unfortunate children with their own special gifts A troubled Sammy diminishes under the burden of his love and fear of his son and Jonathon tries to find the best way to address the dangers Sophie is likely to pose, fathers feeling a sense of responsibility to the world to which their children pose untold horrors.
Carson writes a beautifully compelling story of two fathers, their relationship with their children, Sammy s terror of his son, and Jonathan s first real love in his life, his beloved Sophie The two men connect, seeing each other with a clarity that forges a bond between these two different men over the problematic nature of fatherhood, paternal love and sacrifice Sections of Belfast s communities are struggling to evolve a new identity, to move on from the wars of the past, racked by fear with the slow disappearance of their familiar world and the symbols over which they had invested so much of themselves So Belfast burns until prayers are answered with the never ending floods of biblical proportions This is a brilliant evocation of a Belfast at once recognisable but blurred at the edges with the magical and the fantastical A superb read that I recommend highly Many thanks to Random House Transworld for an ARC.



For whatever reason I never tire of reading about the Troubles, but The Fire Starters is not your average Troubles book Set in modern day East Belfast, Jan Carson imagines a series of fires that break out throughout the city, initiated by an enigmatic figure referred to as the Fire Starter, who revels in the blood lust that his havoc causes Amidst this violence we have two fathers, Sammy Agnew, an old man and former paramilitary, and Jonathan Murray, a socially awkward new father, both of whom fear their own children, as Sammy begins to suspect that his son is the cause of the Tall Fires, and Jonathan begins to suspect that his newborn daughter is a Siren.
This is a singular, inventive, tragic, and wildly funny book about the legacy of violence and the lasting scars it leaves on a community The novel s central conceit is reminiscent of Milkman, and of other quintessential Northern Irish lit that terror begins at home, that trust cannot automatically be extended to one s own family but Jan Carson s interpretation of this theme is farabstract than any I ve seen before I ll be honest, I m so relieved that I didn t know there was going to be a magical realism element to this book before picking it up, because as I m sure you all know by now, magical realism almost never works for me but fortunately, Carson shows us how it s done This book quite literally mythologizes the Troubles as the threat of Sophie the maybe Siren looms large over Jonathan, but her narrative role isambiguous is Jonathan merely appropriating the grandiosity of the cultural narrative he was raised into, or is Sophie actually a danger to society As Jonathan fears for the future, Sammy reminisces on the past and the violent role he played in the conflict in the 1970s he fears that he can never wash his hands clean, and that his actions have irrevocably damaged his son As I m sure you can tell, I loved this Jan Carson s writing is sharp and funny and piercing the fusion of perspectives works magnificently the examination of Belfast s history of violence and the ever present threat of its resurgence is timely and unapologetic And this is, frankly, one of the most original things I ve read in a very long time.
Jan Carson sThe Fire Startersexamines fatherhood in a really interesting way The novel follows two separate narrative strands both set in East Belfast but one is a realistic look at criminal elements and the other is a fantastical tale involving children with supernatural abilities These two stories occasionally connect, only to glance off each other like billiard balls, remaining mostly self contained It s a very odd juxtaposition but one which surprisingly works well.
Each story follows a father who fears his child, believing them to be powerful, malevolent and destructive In one, Sammy believes his twenty something son is the anonymous Fire Starter, a rogue individual who has attracted a large online following, and is inciting them to commit a series of devastating arsons known as the Tall Fires throughout the city In the other, single dad Jonathan is convinced that his infant daughter is a mythological creature, with the potential to do great harm he discovers a support group for parents of similarly afflicted kids with a range of bizarre abilities These two men s lives seem worlds apart, but each is grappling with similar fears anxieties, questions of heredity, and how best to love their monstrous children.
Jonathan s fear of his baby daughter manifests in strange ways but his emotional and sleep deprived state is believable By embodying parental worries in a fantastical conceit, Carson allows us to look at them aslant, and by juxtaposing a separate, completely realistic storyline, drives the point home further still Parenthood is weird and causes grown adults to behave in ways that are hardly rational sometimes Newborn babies are such strange and wondrous creatures, they might well seem to us like mythological beings A world that was safe and comfortable becomes suddenly menacing and full of dangers once you have a tiny human to protect.
The other aspect of this novel that worked really well for me is Carson s prose There are some terrific zoomed out descriptions of Belfast and its inhabitants, and of the fires cutting a swathe through the city These are so vivid and brilliantly done, I just had to stop and read them over again Its hybrid nature makes this a tricky book to recommend, but if you are open to something a bit different, do give it a go 4 stars.