Carlos Reyes has an almost Joycean ear for the nuances of Irish speech, and in The Keys to the Cottage he catches the energy and music of the talk and the crosstalk of a rural Ireland which scarcely exists any more. From his first bewildering encounters with people who see him as just another Yank, an outsider passing through, we watch him being enfolded into a culture and a family which he observes with a clear but loving eye. A rich and gentle humor suffuses this book, and as Ireland changes rapidly Reyes holds on to a vision of a slower time of hard farmwork, long sessions of poetry and pints, and endless cups of tea lubricating talk of politics and pigs. He gives us a host of characters, in that special Irish sense of the word which mixes personality with an engrossing crookedness of individuality. By the end, the outsider has become the genial chronicler of the kinds of lives that will not be seen again, and has become an insider more Irish than many of the Irish themselves.