Sunrise with Sea Monster by Neil Jordan Chatto & Windus $170 NEIL Jordan is best known as a scriptwriter and as the director of such films as Angel, Mona Lisa and The Crying Game. It is impossible to forget this and yet important to separate it from his novel. A novel should be judged on its singular merits and so I tried in reading Sunrise With Sea Monster, to separate the film-maker from the novelist. With this book Jordan returns to his native Ireland and the 1930s as the Spanish Civil War is coming to an end. Donal Gore's father was an IRA hero in the struggle for independence from Britain, but in later years he turned against the republican movement and became a reactionary. Once a hero to his son, Donal now despises him and goes to Spain to fight Franco out of spite. 'I joined the Republican movement he had abandoned, espoused whatever politics would fill him with terror.' Donal's resentment is also based on personal animosity because his father, a widower, has taken up with Rose, the woman Donal loved. Now, as he sits in a Spanish jail waiting to be executed, he thinks about the path he has followed in his life that has led him to a firing squad. When he is spared death, he returns to Ireland and all the old ghosts of the past. He tries to make his peace with his father and with Rose but every effort seems to end in failure. And the conflict in Spain follows him home and threatens his life. There is no dialogue in Sunrise with Sea Monster. Jordan uses reported speech for all conversations, presumably because he does not want to break the rhythm of the story. In doing so, he is taking a risk but he makes it work. He also switches from the present to the past, as Donal remembers episodes from his life in flashback. But he does so sparingly and to good effect. He has a keen sense of colour and landscape and the sea and its symbolic importance are constant themes. To Donal, it is from the sea that we came and to the sea we return when we die.