Colm Herron’s second novel, The Further Adventures of James Joyce, is an extremely ambitious work. Herron, who lives in Derry, takes his readers back to the tense and volatile Derry of the late 1980s, where Myles Corrigan and Conn Doherty spend much of their time drinking and talking in a local haunt, The Drunken Dog. In the midst of the palpable grief, depression, violence, and political and religious unrest (which Herron powerfully yet subtly conveys) the book takes many meta-fictional turns. Myles often interrupts Herron’s narration as the author and his character bicker about narrative decisions. Three-quarters of the way through the book, James Joyce talks with Myles from beyond the grave and enlists his help in transcribing his last masterpiece. But in order for their plan to succeed, Myles must take over the writing of The Further Adventures since Herron is suffering from incurable writer’s block and is contemplating killing off his protagonist in what Joyce and Myles deem to be all too neat of an ending.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed his writing, I was left wishing Herron hadn’t given up and let his character – who is a much more pretentious and self-involved writer – take over. Still, Herron’s wit is clear throughout and I am excited to see what he writes next. – Sheila Langan (249 pages / Dakota)