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A Bestiary

A Bestiary

by Aidan Higgins

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"A bloody marvelous book." Harold Pinter


"A bloody marvelous book." Harold Pinter

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Higgins is an Irish novelist, highly regarded in the 1960s, whose work had, until recently, been entirely out of print in the U.S. The first American publication of his three memoirs, an omnibus edition published in England between 1995 and 2000, launches a major restoration effort, which includes the concurrent reissue of Higgins's most famous novel, Langrishe, Go Down-the story of four sisters who, he reveals at the end of his first memoir, Donkey's Years, were based on himself and his three brothers, with the setting barely changed from their family home in County Kildare. In recreating his past, Higgins freely admits he's retrieved material from other works as well, though the tone is more often experimental than novelistic. The prose gets even more disjunctive in the second volume, Dog Days, which returns to his first adolescent love affair, then advances to the breakup of his marriage. Higgins's sexual misadventures become more explicit in The Whole Hog, which revisits the time periods of both preceding volumes from different angles. This overlapping is occasionally repetitive, but Higgins keeps things fresh by finding new aspects to share in intensely descriptive prose. The overall effect is less like a memoir than a glimpse at a novelist's notes as he transforms the raw material of his experiences into fictional set pieces. (July 15) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This hefty volume collects three of underappreciated Irish prose stylist Higgins's previously published memoirs Donkey's Years, Dog Days, and The Whole Hog which chronicle his childhood in County Kildare, travels in Europe and South Africa, and relationships with a seemingly endless string of women. Although these titles contain their fair share of sex, the most interesting woman in Higgins's life is his mother. His unflinching description of her death in hospital is a sad yet virtuoso piece of writing in an already dazzling book. Readers of Higgins's fiction may recognize elements of it here. As Higgins notes, "The sullen art of fiction-writing can be an inspired form of pillaging"; just as he once borrowed freely from his own life for his fiction, so he later borrowed from his fiction for these autobiographies. Higgins's lyrical and notoriously uncompromising style isn't for everyone, but libraries not holding the individual titles should seriously consider purchasing this book. William D. Walsh, Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"A bloody marvelous book."-Harold Pinter

Dalkey Archive Press

Annie Proulx
“The ferocious dazzling prose of Aidan Higgins, the pure architecture of his sentences, takes the breath out of you. He is one of our great writers.... 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.”
Dermot Healy
“Read it and see. Few books inspire like this.”

Product Details

Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date:
Irish Literature Series
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Aidan Higgins has written short stories, novels, travel pieces, radio plays, and a large body of criticism. A consummate stylist, his writing is lush and complex. His books include "Scenes from a Receding Past", "Bornholm Night-Ferry", "Balcony of Europe", and "Langrishe, Go Down", which was adapted for television by Harold Pinter.

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