Cover image for More bread or I'll appear
More bread or I'll appear
Martin, Emer, 1968-
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Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999.
Physical Description:
271 pages ; 22 cm
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At high speed and with wicked humor, Emer Martin introduces us to a family unlike any other. Long after her husband is institutionalized, Molly moves her children from the west of Ireland to Dublin. She is following her eldest daughter Aisling --- her favorite, the beloved --- who is to attend college there. But one summer Aisling disappears. Fifteen years later, Molly persuades the youngest and most reliable of her five children, Keelin, to put her own life on hold to search for Aisling. Traveling the world with various of her siblings, Keelin learns that each is cursed with their father's affliction --- "the doubting disease," as they call it. In one way or another, each is paralyzed and compelled to perform irrational acts. In pursuit of her wild, elusive sister, whose personality defies categorization, Keelin takes on a hip and decadent Japan, a talk-show-worthy United States, and a surreal Central America. Many curious adventures, an uncertain reunion, and a stunning betrayallater, Keelin is forced to question the familial attachments that have always driven her. More Bread or I'll Appear casts a unique eye on the issues of gender, race, and class that are vital to contemporary culture. It is a story about family, an examination of the tyranny of genetic and emotional bonds.

Author Notes

Emer Martin was born in Dublin in 1968. She has lived in London, Paris, and the Middle East, and graduated as valedictorian from Hunter College in 1998. Her first novel, Breakfast in Babylon, was named Ireland's Best Book of 1996 at the prestigious Listowel Writers' Week. More Bread or I'll Appear is her second novel.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Martin, the young author of the acclaimed best-seller Breakfast in Babylon (1997), embarks once again upon a riveting transcontinental journey. In More Bread or I'll Appear (the title is taken from an Irish folk legend), Martin enters into the world of Molly, a single mother, who moves her family from the west of Ireland to Dublin during a time of economic depression. The eldest daughter, Aisling, disappears one summer and never returns to Ireland. Fifteen years later, Ireland is a different place--economically, politically, and socially. Molly's children are disparaging Gen X products of this new Ireland and have moved themselves across the globe. Keelin, the youngest and most capable child, goes on a quest at Molly's behest to search for the missing Aisling. Surrounding Aisling's disappearance is a web of mystery, intrigue, and sexual ambiguity as Keelin and her various siblings join in the search for their eldest sister. Aisling remains elusive until a compelling conclusion, yet empathy consistently remains with Keelin. Although not as vibrant and fresh as Breakfast in Babylon, it is a welcome successor in the budding oeuvre of such a precocious author. --Michael Spinella

Publisher's Weekly Review

Irish author Martin's meandering second novel (after Breakfast in Babylon) traces the erratic intersection of five siblings in a middle-class Irish family as they try (and usually fail) to leave home and make their way in the wider world. Molly, the mother of the clan and a piano teacher by profession, separates from her mentally unstable husband and moves the family from West Ireland to Dublin, where her oldest daughter and favorite, Aisling, can attend college. Yet the capable "tiger-spirited" Aisling disappears in her early 20s, leaving a void in her wake. Meanwhile, patterns develop at a belabored pace among the other siblings: teenaged Orla becomes pregnant and is shipped off to New York by the family's benefactor, Uncle Oscar, the priest; Patrick, the only son, exhibits pious, obsessive compulsive behavior that mirrors his father's; Siobhan bounces among jobs in London and New York, growing increasingly anorexic; and Keelin, the youngest and the principal narrator, resigns herself to staying at home to care for her ailing mother, finding work as a teacher. It is not until 15 years after Aisling's disappearance, when most of the siblings are in their early 30s, that Molly persuades Keelin to try to track down her sister, who has been sighted variously in Japan, Hawaii, Mexico and Honduras. Keelin and one or another sister take off around the world, following elusive clues, usually in bars, in pursuit of Aisling. They learn a little about her: she dresses as a man, and sells sex to Japanese businessmen but seems to prefer women. When Keelin finally encounters her in a dreamlike scene on the beach, the real Aisling cannot measure up to the expectations the reader and her family have of her. Martin's prose has a strong rhythmic lilt and her characterization is sound, though unfocused; the voice of Keelin barely emerges from the chatter of her siblings. Although Martin seems to be exploring whatever defines the essential Irish spirit, the narrative drive weakens and is almost lost against the global cacophony of Keelin's picaresque journey. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Martin (Breakfast in Babylon, LJ 8/97) chronicles the lives and times of a dysfunctional brood of Irish siblings. Aisling, the oldest and her mother's favorite, has disappeared. Fifteen years later Keelin, the youngest and most reliable of the siblings, is persuaded by her mother to find her. With anorexic sister Siobhan in tow, Keelin sets out for Tsukuba, Japan, Aisling's last known address. Keelin is forever one step behind her sister and encounters links to Aisling everywhere she goes. People and events from the siblings' lives intertwine: blackmail, wealthy lovers, gay priests, alcoholism, mental illness, transvestites, sex, death, and, ultimately, betrayal are all featured in Keelin's odyssey, which ends not with the successful deliverance of Aisling back to her mother but with Keelin's search for her own safe place in the world. Martin disguises the terrible with wry and wicked humor and makes the mundane fierce and disturbing. Recommended.¬ĎDianna Moeller, WLN, Lacey, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.