October 06, 2005

The Bestiary

Look among the new books near the door, at 823.914, for Aidan Higgins' A bestiary. This is his three volume autobiography, republished as a single volume. Higgins is now a Saoi of Aosdána and is utterly Irish, born at Celbridge in County Kildare, now a resident of County Cork.

This is a pick up and put down book if you choose, with short entries, each a few pages in length, his family and his loves winding in and out. A sample bit from his brief essay on the Palladian Castletown House: "Lady Katherine and Lady Louisa after her no doubt accepted the poor Catholic villagers as they were: namely, unwashed, evasive, shiftless, fractious (when it suited them), quarrelsome, superstitious, light fingered, poly-progenitive, impertinent, pushy, deferential, scatter-brained, abject and dumb with embarrassment in her presence." (83)

Or "Having lost a leg on Anzio Beach Captain Andy limped for the rest of his life until lost without trance with the crew of the ill-fated Joyita in the fastness of the Tasman Sea. The little ketch had been found a month later a thousand miles off course with a shelter arranged aft as if..." (268)

No, that is not representative. In picking tiny pieces it is impossible to convey the delight. Annie Proulx as quoted in the Frontlist Summary: "The reader who cannot take pleasure from it must be dead. I have stood stunned with admiration for the muscular power and linguistic acrobatics--to say nothing of the elegant play with language and the daring architecture--of his work for years."

Note: Celbridge (Cill Droicid), was within the Pale. The town is now roughly the size of Takoma Park and has an interesting discussion forum. Recent topics: Playground Problems and Ghostly Experience.

See also:
Reading Aidan Higgins
The Irish Writers Online entry
and if you are interested in architecture of stone, more about Castletown House and Katherine and Louisa

Posted by library at October 6, 2005 11:36 AM
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