While this book has an ostensibly medical subject matter, as I pointed out in its review it is a curiously detached account of the 1956 Cork polio outbreak.
My other Guardian piece, from over a decade ago. I would end up knowing Cork a lot better in subsequent years.
It is generally OK, although I find myself cringing at some awkward phrases – like “resign on marriage” or “ engaging and witty book itself has a vigorous personality.” Perhaps I am oversensitive.
Too many of my reviews feature terms like “engaging” without real justification. I am not specifically talking about Cockburn, but a tic I have in general. Part of it is an ingrained respect for the Book, so that an enthusiasm comes too early. I really should justify whjat is engaging about a specific work.
The Broken Boy
by Patrick Cockburn
320pp, Cape, £15.99
Writing about the house in which he grew up in Youghal, east Cork, Patrick Cockburn says it “owed its vigorous personality to our lack of money, which ensured that it never saw…
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