Children of the Rainbow

Bryan MacMahon.Dutton, $3.95.
This Irish first novel has a quality rare in fiction nowadays: an immense relish for life. The narrator, casting his eye back to the 1920s, relates a series of episodes that happened to the people of a Munster village called Cloone. The episodes — most of them humorous, a few poignant, and all of them full of vividly colored Irish talk — have to do with the young people’s loves and the old people’s fear of death; with festivals, poaching, brawling, greyhound coursing, a departure for America. The Cloonies are an engaging set of characters — children of the rainbow dwellin’ always in the mornin’ of the world.”
This is a book, as one Cloonie says of their lives, “thronged with small beauties.”I have two reservations about it. The episodes are so disconnected that it is perhaps stretching a point to call the book a novel. The Irishness, a quality I’m very partial to, is so thickly laid on that I sometimes felt the people were concerned with nothing so much as being picturesquely Irish.