The Leaves on Grey
By: Desmond Hogan
‘To seek the beginning is to go back a long time ago, when the town in which I am writing was a little different and trees hung at the end of the town, trees hung obsessively, many trees, much green at the end of the street come summer, come the arrival of leaves and sun and buttercup blaze.’
It is the late 1940s, and Sean and Liam, middle-class boys in a small West of Ireland town, share a powerful bond of love and rivalry: each long for the same women. At university together in Dublin, Sean and Liam’s burgeoning sexuality leads them to a deeper, almost mystical level of involvement. They befriend Christine, rich, vulnerable and desperate for affection, and Sarah, glamorous, spoiled, intoxicating; her body is a seductive bridge between the pair, which they ultimately cross with painful and profound consequences.
The Leaves on Grey is the story of Ireland, ‘maker of wounds, tormentor of youth, ultimately breaker of all that was sensitive and enriched by sun, rain, wind’. Sean and Liam, and the men and women who become part of their lives, are both the creators and victims of their birthright.
This sensitive, passionate story is Desmond Hogan’s second novel, originally published in 1980. It is reissued here with a new afterword by the author.
‘Lost innocence, the young and the bright and the beautiful shining and dancing before dusk, is the theme … Hardly new material, but to it Mr Hogan – one of the most talented writers lately to come out of Ireland or anywhere else – brings a light so brilliant that almost every word dazzles.’ – Janice Elliott, Sunday Telegraph
‘Desmond Hogan establishes himself among the best novelists with The Leaves on Grey. He has a lot to say, which he does with elegance and maturity … his language is succinct and utterly fresh. He wishes fiction to be a moral force, and his could be.’ – Myrna Blumberg, The Times
‘A free-ranging, ambitious and poetic talent … whose intensity and individuality of vision, though learned and strengthened in Ireland, will give him a significance of a wholly universal kind.’ – Paul Binding, Books and Bookmen