Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Wily O'Reilly: Irish Country Stories by Patrick Taylor

Different from the rest of the Irish Country Doctor novels, this book is the genesis of the series - the medical journal humor columns Taylor wrote in the 1990s that eventually spun into the fiction series.

In the columns we see many of the familiar Ballybucklebo residents, but in a slightly different light. Most notably, Dr. O'Reilly is depicted here less favorably than in the novels - here he's rough, gruff, enigmatic and incredibly quick to anger; while the O'Reilly of the series is all of those things too, in the novels he's depicted in friendship and with affection, which effectively paints his negative attributes with a broader brush. Also, Doctor Barry Laverty is missing from these stories - instead, Taylor himself fills the role of the young protege and foil to O'Reilly's antics.

Reading these columns is an interesting exercise in perspective - the myriad ways an author colors our perception of a character by the nuanced words used to describe their actions.

That said, I'm happy now to go back to a friendlier, gentler Ballybucklebo with the next novel.

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