The Bend For Home: A Memoir

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9780151003044: The Bend For Home: A Memoir

The Bend for Home is a family portrait like no other. Naturally and unassumingly, Dermot Healy explores the obdurancy of memory and the vagaries of recollection. Wheter he is describing the family's move from the sleepy village of Finea, County Westmeath, to the bustling market town of Cavan; or his father, a kind policeman in poor health, who plays cards and drinks stout with his cronies; or his mother, whose stories young Dermot has heard so often that he believes they are his own; or Aunt Maisie, whose early disappointment in love has left her both dreamy and cynical (the two sisters run a thriving cafe and bakery), Healy maintains that magnificient true storyteller's distance and playfulness. At the center of the book is a diary the author kept as a boy and which his mother held on to, returning it only in her last years. Through this intriguing and often hilarious document-written in a code so secret even the author himself couldn't decipher parts of it-comes a powerfully conniving portrait of an artist unlike anything since James Joyce's classic.

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About the Author:

Dermot Healy is a poet, a playwright, and a novelist. His short-story collection Banished Misfortune won two Hennessy Awards and the Tom Gallon Award. His novels include Fighting with Shadows and A Goat's Song. He is a member of Asodana, the academy of distinguished Irish writers. He lives in Sligo, Ireland. 

From Kirkus Reviews:

Eschewing straightforward chronicle, Irish poet and novelist Healy (A Goat's Song, 1995), born in 1947, re-creates his upbringing through a series of impressionistic word-pictures and characterizationsmost poignantly of his father, a policeman who retired early due to ill health. Writes Healy, taking his bearings here, ``What happened is a wonder, though memory is always incomplete, like a map with places missing.'' The young boy felt trapped with his family's move from the small village of Finea to the town of Cavan, where they lived above the busy bakery-tearoom operated by his aunt Maisie and his mother, Winnie. He and his father were both sleepwalkers, seeking escape in night dreams (``most nights we set off for Finea''). Healy gives little description of how he grew to be a man in London, though he does allow a self-deprecating glimpse ahead to the writer who returns home to find himself fabricating, to the editor of the local paper, a literary success he's not yet achieved. Thematically and stylistically, Healy's talents are ever on display here; the occasional sustained heroic catalogue of Cavan, for examplethe author piling clause upon vivid clause, like so many layers of frostingproviding technical tours-de-force; though his later experience at Saint Patrick's Secondary College, rendered primarily through re-created diary entries, is far less memorable. In closing as he flash-forwards to the 1990s and his return to Cavan to care for his aged mother, infirm and losing her faculties, Healy evokes the surprising bawdiness of the old woman's humor and ruminates on an imaginary place, Hy Brazil, like another Atlantis rising out of the sea, out beyond where the author lives, in North Sligo. The island, he concludes, is, like life, ``peopled with uncertainties.'' With his descriptive talent and his knack for making comedy out of tragedy, Healy has written a beautiful, imaginative, full- blooded memoir. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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