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This review is taken from PN Review 58, Volume 14 Number 2, November - December 1987.

IRELAND'S EYE Benedict Kiely, A Letter to Peachtree And Nine Other Stories (Victor Gollancz) £9.95

Kiely's world is one of constant intersections, a system of junctions and conjunctions where the present is incessantly undercut or shot through with the past, the past in echoes, in associative embers of memory, of digression, of allusion, of song, poem, rhyme, recitation, of legendary story, of local legend and tale. These stories are as full of noises as Prospero's (or Caliban's) isle. Every telling has a multiple taling, and that's the he and the she of it.

Ireland is a known and loved place, flooded with local stories, and each story pulls into it others, and they yet others, and Kiely is one of her best tellers of tales, celebrant of its long and racial memory. The land is anti-clerically religious, tingling with blasphemies for those who have the trained ears to hear; it is a place of contradictions, a place with kindly country gardaí who might have known your father or met you fishing 'a while ago on Lough Derg, Dromineer, for the mayfly', but also with 'this organization called Maria Duce, like the Mother of God up there with Mussolini', intent on stopping the performance of plays of which it has a strong moral disapproval.

Kiely's stories are, as the pseudo-American budding scholar in 'A Letter to Peachtree' has it, 'a genuine slice, or bottle, of old Ireland, as I ate, or drank it'. Kiely's own experiences, his own memories, his overheard stories from a lifetime of listening and telling, are the ...


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