Ridgway, Keith 1965–
RIDGWAY, Keith 1965–
PERSONAL: Born October 2, 1965, in Dublin, Ireland.
ADDRESSES: Agent—David Miller, Rogers Coleridge and White, Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 IJN, England.
AWARDS, HONORS: Prix Femina Etranger, and Prix Premier Roman, both 2001, both for The Long Falling; Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, 2001, for Standard Time.
Horses (novella), Faber & Faber, Ltd. (London, England), 1997.
The Long Falling (novel), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1998.
Standard Time (short stories), Faber & Faber (London, England), 2001.
The Parts (novel), Faber & Faber (London, England), 2003, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Reviewing British writer Keith Ridgway's first published novel, 1998's The Long Falling, for Library Journal, Jan Blodgett wrote that the Irish-born author "captures the bleakness and passion of contemporary Ireland." In Ridgway's story, protagonist Grace Quinn lives with her alcoholic farmer husband in rural Ireland. Because he blames her for the death of their youngest son, Grace suffers his abuse and brutality. When their surviving son Martin reveals to them that he is gay, the husband beats both Grace and Martin and drives Martin from the home. Four years later, the husband is convicted of manslaughter for running down a young girl while he was intoxicated. When he is released from jail, Grace runs him down in the same location where he had killed the girl. She flees to Dublin to seek refuge with Martin, from whom she has been estranged, but he turns her away. Grace's flight to Dublin occurs during the real-life 1992 case in which a fourteen-year-old rape victim is denied permission to leave the country for an abortion. There is national sympathy for the girl, and Grace is befriended and sheltered by Mrs. Talbot, an innkeeper.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer maintained that The Long Falling poses interesting questions about the status of women in a changing Ireland, but it insistently refuses to answer them so that the problems take on a "strained, academic tone." Booklist reviewer Jennie Ver Steeg remarked that Ridgway's story features "a firm sense of place and an expertly drawn portrait of alienation and loss."
In The Parts Ridgway weaves together six perspectives on a single story that takes place in Dublin, the author's home until his move to London in 1999. As the author reveals in his novel, Dublin, like most cities, is actually composed of many layers. Ridgway draws his characters from many of these: rich widow Delly Roche, who lays dying in her palatial home on the outskirts of the city; Delly's partner Kitty Flood, an overweight, stalled novelist who finds solace in Internet chat rooms; and American-born George Addison-Blake, Delly's adopted stepson, who uses the family manse as a home base for his illegal narcotics business. Other story threads center on night-time FM radio host Joe Kavanaugh, and two gay men, twenty-something Barry and a teen prostitute who goes by the professional name of Kez and manages to survive amid the dregs of Dublin society due to his life-affirming spirit. As Lambda Book Report contributor Jim Gladstone noted, "the plotting that intertwines the lives of these individuals is baroque almost to the point of incredulity": interconnections include unrequited passions, a helicopter crash on Delly's estate, kidnapping plots, drug-related violence, abandonment, and the tantalizing possibility that all of Dublin has actually been given a memory-erasing drug reportedly invented by Delly's late—and possibly murdered—husband.
While some critics found the task of connecting the dots in Ridgway's convoluted plot somewhat trying, others found much to like in The Parts. The book is "an exuberant, inventively silly and rapidly paced novel" that attempts to encompass the spectrum of Dublin life, New York Times Book Review contributor Michael Pye noted. Gladstone found more coherence, noting that while the storylines are "sprawling," Ridgeway "effectively juxtaposes characters from different social strata to comic effect, revealing their impact on each other and making the reader look at the world through a wider-angled lens than usual." In Library Journal Lisa Rohrbaugh called The Parts a "brilliant tale" and recommended the work for "anyone who wants to be entertained, feel fully human, and laugh," while Booklist contributor Joanne Wilkinson found Ridgway's book a "challenging and often exhilarating" read that presents a "shimmering, multifaceted portrait" of cosmopolitan Ireland.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 1998, p. 1096; June 1, 2004, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Parts, p. 1705.
Bookseller, November 22, 2002, "A City like Any Other," review of The Parts, p. 26.
Guardian (Manchester, England), November 23, 2002, Isobel Montgomery, review of Standard Time, p. 30; April 24, 2004, David Jays, review of The Parts, p. 30.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of The Parts, p. 359.
Lambda Book Report, August-September, 2004, Jim Gladstone, review of The Parts, p. 29.
Library Journal, February 15, 1998, p. 172; March 1, 1998, p. 102; June 15, 2004, Lisa Rohrbaugh, review of The Parts, p. 61.
New York Times Book Review, June 13, 2004, Michael Pye, review of The Parts, p. 23.
Publishers Weekly, January 26, 1998, p. 67.
Keith Ridgway Home Page, http://www.keithridgway.com (May 20, 2005).