The first word is "elsewhen," another time. This single breath readies us for unfamiliar places, past settings and impossible worlds, including worlds impossibly cruel. "And the Green Sea Ebbs Away" largely takes place on the ocean floor, when genetic engineering allows for undersea homes, factories and ranches. We look on as a young couple makes love in the waves. Afterwards they sink, but not into sleep or subconscious. This drifting away is literal.
"Wolf and Water" does not name its year or place. The timeless struggle for a crown could be modern day, historical, or otherworldly. "Elsewhen" describes an alternate, perhaps past version of Dublin, where a camel caravan ends in a stock market report. "Fish" is seen through the eyes of trout stocked for food service.
Redmond's technique is humbling: the hard shifts between first- and third-person keep "Elsewhen" paced properly, lest we miss the counterintuitive final page. Transitions are playful and subtle, so be prepared for fade outs such as "Six thousand miles away, five thousand hours away." A widower remarks during "The Sanctuary Keeper" how, "At that time, I was eating grief raw."
And what with all of the nature on display here--the nature of love, the Orwellian equality of the wolves, the fish and cats all around, the nettles, weeds and nightshades--what is most palpable is human nature. A jilted man attacks his former lover simply for blemishing his record. A landowner frames two young men for murder after they poach one of his cows. After a sex scandal with a student, a philosophy professor cannot resist a second tryst. (More on the subject of loveplay, the men in the audience will absolutely squirm to hear Mrs. Ormsby's account of sex with her husband.)
Despite the heavy concentration of prose and veteran maneuvers, Redmond most prefers storytelling. "Elsewhen" is at is core a romance, built from a familiar template. "Fish" gains its momentum when a luxury cruise ship strikes an iceberg. "Our Fenian Dead" follows an Irish republican from Liscullane to Louisiana, where Liscullane is waiting for him. This way the pages seems both foreign and recognizable at once. The result is an unforgettable work by a strong, if sometimes blunt literary voice.
--C.E. Alexander, from The Kindle Book Review
(The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book for an independent, fair, and honest review. We are not associated with the author or Amazon.)