The Runts of the Litter


(These Reviews are both positive and negative and appeared in various publications, or in correspondence between the publishers and the persons here listed. Please let it be noted that all those who spokle negatively about the book have been taken care of and will be taking all their meals through a straw for the considerable future.)
1. The Big Issues (Irish Version of Magazine)

2. Trinity News (TCD Newspaper)

3. Brendan Kennelly (Poet and Professor of English at Trinity College Dublin)

4. The Sunday Tribune (to be added)

The Big Issues
A story of two unfortunates, Ernest and Jon (a failed poet and a wannabe actor) down on their luck without a roof over their heads. The two "artisans" spend every penny they possess on a drunken quest to forget about their troubles. Getting into trouble at every turn, "Laurel and Hardy mark two" indulge in a weekend of debauchery, on an exhausting merry go round of booze and soft drugs (if they could actually afford such luxuries.)
    Their travels take them on an adventurous journey through city streets and oil drums, meeting the strange and the stranger still.
    This is a funny book which captivated me from the start. Ernest and Jon's sardonic wit, lack of talent, mixed with the not uncommon plight of "arty types" in Ireland (who just aren't arty) take themselves far too seriously into the bargain. It'll make you laugh out loud.
Barbara Taylor
© The Big issues Magazine 1999.

Trinity News

Much of the Runts of the Litter, Austen Breaffa's often hilarious and occasionally compelling first novel is eerily familiar for anyone who has spent time in university. Who hasn't drunk their wages or allowance, found themselves on the wrong side of the river, or been stoned at an inopportune time. Breaffa treats these episodes, which follow his protagonists Ernest and Jon's summary eviction (likewise an all too common experience for students) with a great deal of humour and not a little irony. The two self described artists, who suffer that ever so common malady of never having been compensated for their work, stumble around Dublin, meet an old yuppie friend and somehow meander their way to the Aran islands.
   Breaffa's book, quite obviously self published, drags at some places, and even contains a few typographical errors, but generally reads quite swiftly. While several minor characters, including obese American's and Northside street toughs seem to be drawn from the general Dublin font of stock characters, Breaffa manages to make even them entertaining. Self published though it may be, you could do far worse than to read this well composed first novel that would probably have had  even Flann O'Brien in stitches.
Owen F. Lipsett
© Trinity News 1999.

Brendan Kennelly

The Runts of the Litter is a funny, sad, perceptive book about the reality that is created when reality is avoided. The dialogue is really good; in fact, I was struck by the possibility that The Runts could be adapted for a play or a film.
   There are many splendid lines in the book. Among my favourites are: "It gets dark in the country. They don't have streetlights." (page 149) Ernest and Jon, on the run from the real, produce jewels of their own.
   It is comical, sharp, perceptive and memorable.

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The Runts of the Litter is a novel by Dublin writer Garret Baker published by A & A Farmar books and available at their web site. This page is a cover page leading to their adres. The book has been positively reviewed by Brendan Kennelly, the Big Issues, and Trinity News. It is about to be launched in Dublin and other reviews will hopefully appear at a later stag.
Key words for this site would be: Novel, Fiction, Irish, First, Flann, Parsnips, Gooseberry, Strangled, Fornication, Slap, Tickle, Fisticuffs,, Joy, Spam, Silly, so, Comical, Criminal, Flatulent, Funnily enough, smile, why ? I don't know, because life's so silly I suppose.