Blood by Roddy Doyle
The unnamed central character of this short story finds himself suddenly craving blood. He can’t understand it, he is a normal person, a normal man, why on earth is this happening to him. He tries to rationalise it, maybe he has an iron deficiency? Or maybe it is a totally misdirected sex-drive? And yet, he continues to find himself being drawn towards blood. Bloody raw steaks, the next-door neighbour’s chickens…
From the new glass bridge which spanned the inscrutable waters of the Grand Canal, the tram purred downhill and glided gently into the heart of the city.
It was the opening of this book that persuaded me to buy it. The way Ní Duibhne pokes fun at that certain class of Dublin people. It made me smile, but because I knew that there really are people who think that way. Or at least there used to be, now with the demise of the Celtic Tiger maybe there are less of them than there once were.
The atmosphere surrounding the little boy vibrated with tension. He could not see the stifled anger and baffled desire, but he sensed their residue accumulating like dustballs in the corners of the fort. Unspoken recriminations crowded the silences; bitter glances were hurled like spears over small Setanta’s head.
When I first read this book I wrote the month and year inside the cover, so I know that I first read it in February 1994, but I’ve reread it plenty of times in the past 13 years. It has been one of my favourite books ever since. That might possibly be because it is based on the Irish legend of the Táin Bó Cúalnge, or Cattle-Raid of Cooley. The Táin is made up of a collection of stories, based around the heroes of the Red Branch, the warriors of Ulster, and especially Cúchulainn.