Friday, 2 April 2021

Finbar's Hotel

Finished March 31
Finbar's Hotel devised and edited by Dermot Bolger, written by Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Jennifer Johnston, Joseph O'Connor, and Colm Toibin

This linked set of stories are all occurring on the last Thursday the Dublin hotel will be open. The building is a rebuild of one that burnt down thirty years ago, and except for the longlasting carpet, it hasn't aged well. A Dutch firm has recently purchased it and will be razing it to build a new hotel.
Each story here is centered around one room on the first floor of the hotel, with the occupant(s) and their  actions making that story. Two of the hotel staff, the manager and the night porter have somewhat larger roles in the stories, reappearing in more than one. Both of these men have been at the hotel for years, long before the fire that destroyed the earlier building. One, Simon the night porter, because he has worked here for that long, and the other, Johnny Farrell the manager, because his father became a part-owner in the hotel years before and he played here as a child. 
Interestingly, the writers here have chosen not to identify which of them wrote which portions of the book. 
One room has a man who is staying in a hotel room for the first time in his life. He can't identify the reasons that led him to this night, and he feels awkward at times, but determined to see the experience through.
Another room has two sisters who haven't seen each other in years. One left Ireland decades earlier when she was just seventeen and now her sister wants to meet to talk about her mother and dig into her reasons for leaving, but will she finally tell the truth?
In a third room, a young man has smuggled in a cat, but his purpose for doing that is unclear, and the outcome up in the air until the end of his tale. 
Another room is taken by a man the night manager is sure he recognizes although the name on the register is not one he knows. Will he confront the lodger to verify his identification and check the motives behind the stay?
A woman in one room is staying there as part of a series of hotel room visits across the country, all related to a medical diagnosis she's been given and a betrayal she finds hard to face. 
Another woman is staying at the hotel based on a memory of an early boyfriend and how they happened upon that long ago fire. She is thinking of both the discovery of her father as one of the firefighters on scene and the men that have passed through her life.
The last person to have their story here is a criminal engaged in a crime out of his comfort zone and determining his next steps. 
I enjoyed seeing how these characters lives bumped up against each other, usually very briefly, and how this night meant something different to each one, but was important to them in some way. 

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