cover image On the Shoreline of Knowledge: Irish Wanderings

On the Shoreline of Knowledge: Irish Wanderings

Chris Arthur. Univ. of Iowa/Sightline, $21.95 trade paper (230p) ISBN 978-1-6093

Arthur is proof that the art of the essay is flourishing. In his newest (after Words of the Grey Wind), the eloquent Irishman meditates on myriad effects of quotidian life%E2%80%94his mother%E2%80%99s coat, a yellow pencil, his father%E2%80%99s briefcase, a handful of flower seeds%E2%80%94, and weaves a tapestry of the mundane to ultimately reveal illuminating patterns of thought and understanding. Though Arthur is decidedly Irish%E2%80%94his heritage and homeland feature heavily here%E2%80%94, he traverses a broad range of subject matter, from his mother%E2%80%99s signature in a vocal training textbook to a chestnut tree outside Anne Frank%E2%80%99s safe-house, and effortlessly draws connections and parallels that resonate beyond the coasts of his Emerald Isle. The author credits memory with having both "a creative as well as a re-creative element;" so too does this book warrant reading and rereading. Many will likely need a dictionary handy while working their way through this diverse collection, but those who persevere will be richly rewarded for their effort and attention. (Aug.)