Excerpt from The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Spinning Heart

A Novel

by Donal Ryan

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan X
The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2014, 160 pages
    Feb 2014, 160 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

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Print Excerpt


YOU KNOW, I don't think Réaltín realizes the trouble she causes half the time. Every single person in work knows about her going off with George at the anniversary party, but still it's me that has to get the evil eye off all the old bitches all day every day. It's grand for Réaltín, off on her so-called special career break. That was a new one for Georgie Pervy, the chickenshit bastard. Jesus, how are all men the exact same? George leches all over everyone, well, all the young ones anyway, and no one gives it a second thought, but Réaltín has to take it to the next level and actually shag him. But Réaltín doesn't care; she just does anything she wants. I'm not saying I don't love her, I really do, she's gorgeous, and she's brilliant craic and everything, but – I'd never say this to anyone – she's going to have to cop herself on. She's going to have to decide what she's doing with her life and stop being such a disaster. I think sometimes it's an affectation, all the angst and introspection and random lovesickness, but then I see her sometimes, when she thinks no one's looking, and she just looks so sad. But she does draw sadness on herself, in fairness. I mean she's all of a sudden madly in love with this new builder fella. I think Réaltín actually thinks he's going to leave his wife and marry her or something. As far as I can make out he's not even made a ghost of a move on her, but she seems convinced he's besotted with her or something and it's only a matter of time before he drops his hammer and asks if she wants to see his other tool. She went off and bought about forty new outfits to wear for when he calls to her. And she's meant to be broke. She makes up reasons to get him to call. He charges her as well – nothing near what the cowboys in the city charge – but she couldn't have money to be throwing around on trying to seduce married builders. She got a hammer of her own (she probably stole it from his toolbox, in fairness) and banged a load of plaster off her bedroom wall and got him to fix it; she broke a cupboard door in her kitchen and let on Dylan did it; she broke tiles on the en-suite bathroom floor and got him to take them all up and do the whole thing again. And then while he's there she acts like she's a fucking little tramp, which she is, at times. She flits around him in skin-tight jeans or little minis, trying to make him make a move. And he hasn't, nowhere near, and probably never will now, because, you won't believe this: he's only after killing his own father


I never thought I'd ever be depressed, really. It's quite easy fall into that hole. You can kind of lose yourself very quick, when all about you changes and things you thought you always would have turn out to be things you never really had, and things you were sure you'd have in the future turn out to be on the far side of a big, dark mountain that you have no hope of ever climbing over. I was never idle a day since I done the Leaving. I got just enough for the apprenticeship and done my time as a steel fixer and Pokey gave us all jobs when his da handed over the whole works to him. We done everything: roads and houses and formwork and plant and drainage and the whole lot. Pokey tendered for everything. He took on a rake of Polish subbies and screwed the poor pricks and we all thought it was a laugh. That whole subbie thing was a right con job. Then he screwed the rest of us and we laughed on the other side of our faces. I still went around laughing and messing and joking and all, though. I'd never let nobody see how I was panicking.

Everyone thinks I'm gas, that I don't give a shit about anything. I never told anyone about the blackness I feel sometimes, weighing me down and making me think things I don't want to think. It was always there, but I never knew what it was until every prick started talking about depression and mental health and all that shite. I'm not a mentaller, like. I'm not. I just can't see for the blackness sometimes. It's always there, waiting for a chance to wrap itself around me. I often wonder why I was born at all, why my mother had to suffer to give me life, why my father bothered his bollocks with me, working his arse off to pay for things for me, everything I wanted, just about. I think of the ma and the da and how good they always were, and how they always encouraged me, even though it was pure obvious I was the waster in the family, and how they were so let down when I got Réaltín up the duff and they not even having met her and how they met her then and thought her shit was ice-cream, and they were nearly proud of me for a while, and they even thought I might marry her, and how they're solid heartbroken now over never seeing the child and all. It's all gone to shit. That's all my doing, how they're upset like that. Sometimes I feel short of breath and my heart pounds and I feel a whooshing in my ears and I double over and put my head in my hands and a few times lately my hands have been wet with tears when I've taken them away from my face. No fucker knows that, though, nor never will. I'll be grand in a while. I have no right to feel like this.

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Excerpted from The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan. Copyright © 2014 by Donal Ryan. Excerpted by permission of Steerforth Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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