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The King My Father's Wreck: A Memoir Paperback – August, 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this memoir Simpson (People Live Here), the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, reflects on his childhood in Jamaica; the force of imperialism; his Russian-Jewish forebears and complicated family; his emigration to the U.S.; and his career as a writer and teacher. The book is organized as a series of asides which, gradually gaining momentum and significance, allow Simpson a liberty of scope in exploring his memories. He can sound an intransigent note: D.H. Lawrence "reminds me of a tour guide. He is wearing a pith helmet and khaki shorts that expose knobby knees and scrawny legs." Or: "I have never enjoyed politics-it's like going to the bathroom, something you have to do but not to be lingered over." His observations on contemporary publishing and writing are sometimes similarly fierce: "In the United States poetry is a business like any other." Simpson's insistent voice gives his self-portrait a more dramatic emotional topography than most, mingling outrage with regret and celebration as moods and themes. He is never not himself, and that self is full of temperament, rewarding adventurous readers.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Simpson's writing has always been low-key and deceptively simple (see, for instance, The Character of the Poet, Univ. of Michigan Pr., 1986), and this memoir of his life as a writer, editor, teacher, and traveler is no exception. The chief events of the book are his mother's disappearance from their Jamaican home ("the great blow of my life") and her tortuously slow death years later in Italy. In between, and most remarkably in an invented conversation between the miserable boarding-school boy he was and the thoughtful adult he became, Simpson managed to create for himself a kind and wise (if somber) persona whose sanity is no less impressive for having been consciously acquired. Simpson is best known as a poet (e.g., In the Room We Share, LJ 3/1/90), and each of the short chapters here is constructed like a poem: it begins, journeys out toward new places and ideas, and returns to where it began, richer now in hushed, heartfelt insight. A fine addition to literary collections.
David Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Story Line Press (August 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0934257329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0934257329
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,466,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The project of reconstructing the pre-Christian or at least proto-Christian version of that old traditional Celtic piece of literature is both generous and interesting. Of course it is not scientific but it is a pretty good literary achievement.

This voyage of vengeance, an Irish son wanting to avenge the death of his father at the hands of Viking invaders, is a lot more than vengeance since de facto the son Mael Duinn will not perform his vengeance since in the last lap of his voyage he will encounter a half Irish half Viking witch who will pretend she has already killed the man. A vengeance by proxy or something of that sort.

The voyage itself is a lot more fantastic and picaresque or picaresque in the fantastic way than a real epic? The saga - since that's what it is really - takes us from marvelous to bewitched and to diabolical islands, meeting with all kinds of natural or supernatural beings like ghosts, giant insects, dragons, giant horses, and all kinds of human hostile, not so hostile or not hostile at all beings.

We can recognize some bricks coming from various traditions including Greek and even older heritage.

But the most interesting element is that Mael Duinn is constantly oscillating between insanity and pure violence when he is not in his normal state, and that normal state becomes very dubious, doubtful, dubitative, unbelievable or even hypothetical as for its real nature. It is a story in which the characters are confronted to all types of dangerous situations but also to the deepest impulses of theirs; stealing, killing, just enjoying, jealousy.
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Format: Paperback
This riveting story is based on one of the oldest extant narratives from Ireland (recorded in Leabhar na hUuidre -- The Book of the Dun Cow). The author has rearranged the traditional sequence of events so that they correspond to the actual geography of Ireland and its islands and has perhaps restored the tale to something close to its original form. Her use of language is spectacular, in particular her vivid description of Mael Duin's madness. Essentially, the story follows a young man as he discovers his origins, finds his insane mother, learns that he must avenge his dead father, and sets out to fulfill that goal. The story moves seamlessly between the plausible and the mythic, firmly rooted in human emotions with which the modern reader can identify but keeping a foot in the Otherworld as well. Allow time to read this book in one intense sitting -- you won't be able to do anything else
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