The Star Factory

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Overview

One of Ireland's most celebrated writers, musicians, and poets, Ciaran Carson was born in Belfast and has spent his life there. In The Star Factory, he makes himself the cartographer of his home city's spaces, symbolic and literal, the scribe of its byways and avenues, from Abbey Road to Zetland Street. Belfast has seen transformation: once the fifth-greatest industrial city in the world, the home of the S. S. Titanic, it has more recently been a battleground of sectarian slaughter. To conjure up the lives lived ...
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Overview

One of Ireland's most celebrated writers, musicians, and poets, Ciaran Carson was born in Belfast and has spent his life there. In The Star Factory, he makes himself the cartographer of his home city's spaces, symbolic and literal, the scribe of its byways and avenues, from Abbey Road to Zetland Street. Belfast has seen transformation: once the fifth-greatest industrial city in the world, the home of the S. S. Titanic, it has more recently been a battleground of sectarian slaughter. To conjure up the lives lived there, Carson plunges down the "wormhole of memory" - admiring along the way the strata and roots beneath the surface. Though it has experienced more than its share of urban decay - the Star Factory of the title is an abandoned mill - Carson's Belfast teems with stories, stories that can spring from a telephone directory, a cigarette case, a postcard, a book about tramways, a stamp.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The playful, enchanting contiguities of Irish poet Carson's memoir which is as much a portrait of the city of Belfast as it is of one of its denizens are just as skilled as those in Nabokov's standard, Speak, Memory, and are even somewhat bolder. One chapter is linked to another by the resonance of a simple word, as if Carson is doing a kind of poet's math e.g., the study of small photographs leads to a chapter on childhood stamp collecting, which leads to a discussion of the General Post Office rebellion that led to a divided Ireland, a divided Belfast and, ultimately, to Carson's fractured and carefully reconstituted experience. Therein, however, lies the problem: the memoirist is forced to rely on tricks to give shape and life to a story that resists both. It's not Carson who's to be blamed for this, however, but his subject, the city of Belfast where Carson grew up a Catholic and the troubles, economic and political, that have bedeviled it for decades. However lovingly recalled--Radio Ulster, the building of the Titanic--and no matter how imaginatively re-created, as with the Star Factory of the title a Belfast industrial structure "long since demolished" but leaving "an interactive blueprint; not virtual, but narrative reality", Belfast itself cannot be stirred. It seems dead. Unlike Nabokov, who had a revolution and exile to write about, Carson is trapped in a city he's unable to turn away from, its dark, smoking decline reflected in his eyes and extraordinary prose. Among the flood of Irish memoirs these days, none are as dazzlingly written as this, and none remain so solidly entrenched in the sovereign space of the imagination. Sept.
Kirkus Reviews
A whimsical, witty romp through the streets of Belfast. Carson, author of numerous books on Ireland, has contrived an imaginative series of vignettes that illuminate his native city, hangout by hangout. Chapters begin with the description of an apparently random object or place—a chesterfield sofa, in one example—and loosely tie stories, memories, and folklore around that motif (a master of English and Irish alike, Carson can spend entire pages explaining the origins and meanings of place names). The son of a postman (Carson says he felt that as an adult, he should collect stamps to honor this legacy), the author recalls his father as a quirky and engaging character who carried on conversations while in the outhouse and corresponded with people all over the world in Esperanto, just to escape the tyranny of the English language. The book is interspersed with legends and folklore, some of which are wonderfully amusing, most of which Carson translated himself from the Irish. He also, quite naturally, manages to parlay some facts; our Titanic-crazed culture should thrill to read the chapter on the shipþs construction in the docks of Belfast. (In a footnote, he tells us his family's personal connection to the doomed vessel: his father was born the day she sank.) While the tone of most of the book is lighthearted (as when Carson reveals to us the titles of the books he keeps in his privy), there are also more serious undertones of violence and the IRA—mentioned only occasionally and always in passing when referring to some local landmark. Violence for Carson is just one part of the Belfast landscape—not to be dwelt upon, but not to be ignored. Carson'simaginary "star factory," a place "where words were melted down and like tallow cast into new molds," is freshly realized here. Beautifully written, with deep humor and a strong evocation of a very personal Belfast.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559704656
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/9/1998
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.57 (w) x 7.93 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Ciarán Carson is a poet, novelist, and translator. His translations include The Inferno of Dante Alighieri and The Táin. His novels include Fishing for Amber, Last Night's Fun, and Shamrock Tea. He has been awarded the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize and the T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize, as well as the Yorkshire Post Prize for The Star Factory.

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Table of Contents

Raglan Street 1
From Abbey Road to Zetland Street 7
The Model Shop 15
Mooreland 21
The General Post Office 30
Milltown Cemetery 41
The Bunaglow 49
The Titanic 55
The Star Factory I 61
The Frontier Sentinel 71
The New Oxford Billiard Halls 76
The Great Northern Railway 82
Owenvarragh 97
Radio Ulster 105
Balaclava Street 122
The Ulster Cinematograph Theatres 127
O'Neill Street 136
White Star Street 143
The Church of the Holy Redeemer 153
Electric Street 159
The Clydesdale Supply Company 171
Library Street 176
The Panoramic Photograph Company 184
St. Peter's Pro-Cathedral 194
Barrack Street I 202
Barrack Street II 212
Smithfield 221
Brickle Bridge 236
The Star Factory II 246
Magnetic Street 255
The Glass Factory 265
McWatters' Bakery 277
Acknowledgements 293
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    HELP

    I am locked out of first rewult.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    Jayfrost

    Layed down in her nest with her kits beside her.

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