A BESTIARY

Aidan Higgins, Author
Aidan Higgins, Author . Dalkey Archive $49.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56478-358-5 ISBN 978-1-56478-357-8
Reviewed on: 06/14/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
Paperback - 742 pages - 978-1-56478-357-8
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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)

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