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BOHEMIAN LONDON, 1994-95

The Lesser Barbarians - Eimear McBride

Last year, I first learned about "THE LESSER BOHEMIANS" through a radio interview the author had given BBC Radio London. My curiosity was piqued so much that I ordered the paperback edition from a UK-based website. But when I began reading the novel, it was a struggle trying to keep up with the stream-of-consciousness rhythm for the first 30 to 40 pages. I was very frustrated because to get a real, firm grasp of the story itself, told largely from the vantage point of Eily, an 18 year old acting student from Ireland who had come to London in 1994 to pursue a dream -- and along the way, finds love with Stephen, an established actor 20 years her senior --- wasn't an easy process. This was a demanding book, one that I came close to abandoning out of frustration. But then, somehow, the maddening struggle to keep apace of the stream-of-consciousness rush of words on the page faded away and I found that I could now easily follow the storyline. That helped to change my attitude towards the book.

As the saying goes, 'the course of true love never did run smooth'. Eily and Stephen had a very rocky path to get through, because like most people in new, budding relationships, each of them had longstanding issues in their pasts that made it difficult for both to trust themselves and each other. And the way the author uses words like a pointillist painter gave me a kind of visceral sensation at times that this roiling drama was happening in real time, not the early 1990s. 

"THE LITTLE BOHEMIANS" may not be a book for readers leery or unreceptive to stream-of-consciousness prose. But if you are willing to be challenged as a reader, the journey itself will be well-worth the time taken to immerse yourself in it.