Charles Winecoff
April 14, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Wild Decembers

Current Status
In Season
Edna O'Brien

We gave it a B

While much of Wild Decembers, a novel of bad blood (and a secret love affair) between neighboring farm families, seems to take place in a dreamlike Irish fog that lends it an unreal folk-tale feel, moments of unexpectedly intense emotion intermittently pierce the haze. Using a noisy, newfangled tractor in the village of Cloontha to signify both the arrival of handsome Mick Bugler — who has come to claim inherited land — and the inexorable advent of industrial progress, Edna O’Brien shapes a harsh, comic, uneven landscape that occasionally verges on camp. Her gift for conveying tacit desire, however, rescues Wild Decembers from banality. B

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