TESS is separated but looking after her son ARTHUR, who lives with his father in Fairview, on a daily basis before she returns to her apartment overlooking the Liffey in Dublin.
MUNGO still lives with his wife and two children – though she has frozen him out since he nearly killed them all by drunkenly dropping a cigarette on his son’s bed and starting a fire.
photo credit: isfullofcrap some rights reserved.
Both are deeply attached to their children.
Thus their recent pasts are painful, the hurt compounded by poverty, and they are reluctant to tell each other about their true selves. Over a cup of coffee in The Winding Stair Bookshop & Café, Mungo, who reads travel books on Spain, hits on the solution of telling a story, disguised as autobiography, of a train journey through the snow-covered Central Plateau.
Intrigued, on their next meeting TESS tells him in turn the fictional story of her life in Berlin, gleaned from letters from her friend MARIAN.
As the love affair progresses, their stories become more deeply rooted in their own lives and obsessively important to them, forming a double narrative and enabling them to confront truths about themselves.
MUNGO moves to Wexford with his wife and family, and TESS becomes more independent, yet they still need each other to finish the stories. The film with TESS and MUNGO applauding President Robinson as she passes in the Presidential Rolls Royce after her inauguration.
The Fabulists is adapted from the novel of the same name.
Casey’s main achievement in The Fabulists lies in his skilful handling of the elements of fact and fantasy, realism and surrealism that make up the novel. Fabulous, seductive fictions are anchored in mundane realities and the compulsion to invent is counterbalanced by the obligation to confront the truth. His geographically centered, metaphorically open narrative allows us to read Tess and Mungo’s journey from immurement to freedom as a parable of a maturing Ireland. The subtlety and ease with which Casey achieves such symmetry between private and public worlds makes The Fabulists an assured and impressive debut.
-Liam Harte Irish Studies Review (Bristol)
If you haven’t read The Fabulists, and I know there are still a few of you out there, it’s available for free download under a Creative Commons licence, or to read online, at its special subsite, or if you want to pop over to The Irish Literary Revival, which I created with poet Patrick Chapman, it’s available there, too, with works from Patrick and other Irish writers. Actually, if you wish, you can also download my last book of poems fromthis site also. See links below.
The Fabulists at Philip Casey’s website