John Kelly

Life
[fl. 1997]; Northern Irish author of Cool about the Ankles (1997), memoir set between Manhattan in 1996 and Enniskillen in 1970s, discovering gulf between ‘Prodesans and Catlicks’ and football in the carpark; also The Little Hammer (2000), novel of paramilitary violence; also The Little Hammer (Vintage 2001).

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Works
Cool about the Ankles (Belfast: Blackstaff 1997), 160pp.; The Little Hammer (London: Jonathan Cape 2000; Vintage 2000), 224pp.; Sophisticated Boom Boom (London: Jonathan Cape 2003; Vintage 1004), 195pp.

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Criticism
‘PC’ [abbrev.], review of Cool about the Ankles (Belfast: Blackstaff 1997), in Times Literary Supplement, 4 July 1997, p.31; Derek Hand, review of Sophisticated Boom Boom in The Irish Times (5 April 2003), “Weekend”, p.11.

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Commentary
[Q.a.,], in The Irish Times (2 June 2001), notices The Little Hammer (2000; Vintage 2001), an Irish comic novel rich in intertextuality; ‘creates a mood of sustained intensity yet is mercifully free of the grit-and-frin hysteria which infests so much Irish “comic” writing […] the use of language is deft and original; the ornithological sub-theme is, well, light as a feather - and the narrator makes of the word “unreliable” a whole new ball game.

John Kenny, review of The Little Hammer (Cape), in The Irish Times (18 March 2000) [Weekend]: The novel concerns the murder of a palaeontologist with his won hammer by a boy of nine, who relates the deed to his pious upbringing in Fermanagh and his present situation in an unnamed institution (asylum). Kenny remarks: ‘The incarcerated madman is a familiar figure in modern …. while Kelly’s Irish madman is somewhat derivative (Pat McCabe’s butchering [sic] boy is a tangible presence), his activities are sufficiently bizarre and his voice is sufficiently idiomatic to ensure reasonable individuality.’ Further, that Kelly ‘waits until the very end to establish the poignancy of institutionalism’.

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