Letter to Peachtree and Nine Other Stories

Benedict Kiely, Author David R. Godine Publisher $17.95 (209p) ISBN 978-0-87923-727-1
The unique voice of Kiely, termed the ""Irish Balzac,'' richly resonates in this collection of sprightly stories. In his well-received novel, Nothing Happens in Carmincross, Kiely wove a marvelously meandering tale of a writer's return to Ireland from a sabbatical at a college in the South, where the beauty of the American female may have gotten him off-track. Echoes of that richly embroidered telling are heard in the long story-letter that gives title to this collection. In ``Peachtree,'' the narrator cautions his American student and inamorata: ``If anybody in time to come ever reads this letter, found in a tin box in a hole in the ground on Kennesaw mountain, it may be said that it is merely a zany folktale from an island that once was, way out in the eastern sea,'' but, in fact, ``Here I give you a genuine slice, or bottle, of old Ireland, as I ate, or drank, it.'' Perhaps the least accessible of the stories in the group, it is nevertheless a tour de force of narrative finesse, crisscrossing Gaelic myths and legends with picaresque happenings among contemporary people. Other shorter tales picture country boys making contact with the larger world of the town or village (``Your Left Foot Is Crazy''; ``The Jeweller's Boy''). A more sophisticated venue emerges in ``The Python'' for the summer dalliance of an amorous academic in New York. Ironic twists and an antic delving into the rich heritage that undergirds traditional Irish society resonate also in a wider community. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
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