You will love the barbed humour of Peter Cunningham’s new novel, Capital Sins as he takes an almost crime-thriller view of Celtic Tiger Ireland in 2006, when “going forward” was full speed ahead and only wimps get left behind.
In Chapter One you get to meet Albert Barr, a Tramore-born debt-laden, hard-living larger than a caption, who stood 89th in Ireland’s Rich List. Known in the tabloids as the Shit King who left six thousand people in Dublin during a Bank Holiday with sewage coming up through the floors. He is on the verge of a Viagra orgasm, a heart attack or becoming even more filthy rich.
His voluptuous wife Medh-Marie has pretentions like Michael Coady’s Woman of the Five Bathrooms and they have token terrible twins.
Through Barr you get to meet an almost Dickensian parade of smarty bankers, yes men, oily sidekicks and more geezers on the gravy train. But it is Cunningham’s fine storytelling skill that he keeps the work above pastiche, with accurate and pointed episodes, that unfold in a linear way to keep the reader engrossed.
I am less sure of his struggling journalist cum gardener who has the expose of a lifetime but nobody wants to hear his tale as the good times roll and the money keeps pouring in like expensive concrete.
While reading this book I was out by the 02 Point in Dublin, where the abandoned shell of the Anglo Irish Bank lies derelict with five giant cranes cluttering the skyline.
Cunningham creates not just the sideshows of international development drama but the sense of panic as dreams and delusions vanish in a convulsion of commentators, investment gurus, armchair investors, bank-sponsored economists, shady politicians and sundry hanger-ons.
Peter Cunningham will read from Capital Sins in Ardkeen Library some time in September.