Irish Elegies

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Though most of our lives we will walk right over those protrusions, one day we will stumble over them and be forced to confront a hazy past.


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With elegiac lyricism, Chris Arthur examines those tangled memories that have secured his understanding of family, community, and nation. Each rich narrative develops into a marvelously elaborate conceit. Readers will be delighted by Arthur's masterful juxtaposition, his striking perceptiveness, his sumptuous vocabulary, by the way he treats the topics of transience, loss, and death with meditative reverence, and the way he traces through shadowy memories the peculiar and rare imprints we leave behind for others to interpret and understand.

Intrigued, I asked to read some sample chapters, and then some published reviews of his previous work. I quickly was astounded; his reviews were the most stellar I'd ever seen: "Chris Arthur is the Irish writer who has been quietly rescuing the meditative essay for the twenty-first century" Patrick O'Sullivan ; "Chris Arthur's recently completed 'Irish trilogy' of essay collections should not only put him on the map as the contemporary Irish essayist, but also raise general interest in the possibilities of the essay form in our time" Graham Good ; and "[Chris Arthur] must, on the strength of this collection alone, now be counted among the most innovative advocates of creative nonfiction in contemporary Irish writing, and certainly the one most committed to creating a distinctly Irish habitation for the essay" James Silas Rogers.

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I signed the book within a week and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. See you miss nothing proffered. Name and store and set in order all. Let nothing be a toy too small, a trophy overpast the weighing palm that reckons less or more; for all you know, or I know, these must last the slow attritions of eternity. These meanderings take a particularly self-reflexive form in Irish Elegies, and it is this volume which at once reinforces Arthur's methods and primary concerns, but also allows him to explore slightly different and more experimental approaches.

The short vignettes in his 'Thirty-Six Views, None of Mount Fuji' are especially fresh … In his later work Arthur becomes more and more assured of his style and method. He is unapologetic about his detailed and complex language … He is primarily concerned with exploring apparently ordinary experiences for what they reveal below the surface … This profound laterality has much in common with Deleuze and Guattari's notion of the 'rhizome'.

This is a deeply insightful, yet humbly presented, contribution to essay criticism, which seeks to foreground, as all the essays do, personal experience in the face of abstract critical pronouncements.

About this book

Arthur repeatedly returns to certain themes in a meditative rather than a repetitive way , looking at his object of study from multiple angles. He has successfully not only unearthed some mysteries of his own, but also awakened in this reader a new excitement for the future of the essay in the landscape of Irish writing. The journal explores all aspects of Irish literature, history, culture and arts from ancient times to the present.

'I can't keep writing elegies' Seamus Heaney on C4News 1999

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In this book, critically acclaimed author Chris Arthur continues his experiments with the mercurial literary genre of the essay, using it in innovative ways to explore aspects of family, place, memory, loss, and meaning. Through these unique prose meditations, readers are led to a dozen unexpected windows on Ireland.

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Overview In this book, critically acclaimed author Chris Arthur continues his experiments with the mercurial literary genre of the essay, using it in innovative ways to explore aspects of family, place, memory, loss, and meaning. Average Review. Write a Review.