corner corner Cal


by Bernard MacLaverty | Literature & Fiction
Registered by stephjb of Torquay, Devon United Kingdom on 3/10/2017
Average 8 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by stephjb): available

1 journaler for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by stephjb from Torquay, Devon United Kingdom on Friday, March 10, 2017

This book has not been rated.

Swapped for in the book exchange at Camping Didota, Oropesa, Spain. 

Journal Entry 2 by stephjb at Oropesa, Castelló/Castellón Spain on Saturday, March 11, 2017

8 out of 10

Cal is the first book I think that I have read which so directly addresses the sectarian violence in 1980s Northern Ireland. I remember as an older child watching television news reports of IRA bombs and attacks, not understanding much of the reasons behind such atrocities and also not realising that, on English TV anyway, we were only generally shown half the story. At one point in Cal MacLaverty has his character wonder why Protestant activists are are called 'staunch' while their Catholic counterparts are 'fervent'. Two sides participating in equally violent and sadistic acts against each other, but described in evocative tones implying a sense of right and wrong with these words apportioned purely on the basis of authoritarian approval. Such is the power of language.

Cal, the man, isn't really much of anything and if he had lived somewhere peaceful no one would have bought MacLaverty's book, much less made it a classic school text. (I am glad I read it by choice rather than under obligation!) MacLaverty manages to show people on each side of the divide as both good and bad so I didn't feel him trying to sway me to either point of view. Instead he graphically portrays how easy it for people to slide into such a vicious stalemate, especially when they have little hope of any alternatives to lift them above their grievances. What makes Cal a fascinating protagonist is his world forcing his actions. Not a violent man and certainly, left to his own devices, not a murderer, in this society Cal cannot be his own man. Bravery is calculated by contributions to The Cause, not by standing apart. I was reminded of Good People by Nir Baram in that this novel also shows an everyman in an extreme situation and, as readers, we must ask ourselves how we would behave under such pressures.

Book review from Literary Flits ( 

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