Another first in my life: at the age of thirty-one I brought a girlfriend home. Kathleen sat on the chaise longue, small legs crossed, one tiny toe resting on my mother's lime-green pouffe, her petite nose wrinkling with distaste as she looked about our family den. Through her eyes I regarded the rusticated fireplace, the crenellation of photos above, the grey cloth donkey - creels full of real turf crumbs from the West - propped against the ormolu clock.' The Family Business is many things: journal of a frustrated young writer and lover; portrait of bohemian social life in 1970s Dublin; intimate history of the rising Catholic middle class and of a family in flux. Kenny writes autobiography with the eye and ear of a novelist, evoking a time, a place and a welter of emotions through vividly remembered scenes, snippets of dialogue, small epiphanies. Unlike most memoirs, which place so much weight on the act of remembering itself, and are thus more about the writer's present than his past, The Family Business has the immediacy of a diary, and an almost excruciating honesty. It is, above all, an extraordinarily accomplished piece of writing.
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