Books: Connoisseurs Of Lost Causes THE TENANTS OF TIME

by Thomas Flanagan; Dutton; 824 pages; $21.95

The very first page of this very long novel about Ireland contains a reference to an unspecified night in June 1904, when "Patrick Prentiss came for the first time to Kilpeder and booked a room at the Arms." The time may be of little consequence to most readers, but some will not be able to ignore that, by coincidence or design, the author begins his plunge into Irish history with a suggestion of the most famous date in modern literature. That would be Bloomsday (June 16, 1904), the day of James Joyce's Ulysses.

The tweedy Prentiss does not make as splashy...

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