Wednesday 3 October 2007

John McGahern

Memoir by John McGahern

Memoir was written at the end of a life. It has an intensity and clarity that comes from a distillation of memories. He writes of his mother and the love that he had for her. He writes of her death and the sense of loss that never left him. His father is a constant, brooding presence and other people come and go in the narrative but it is this shining love that remains with you long after you have closed the book.

I read Memoir in Ireland, in Co. Sligo close to the places that he evokes with such unsparing detail. We drove over the hills and past turf cuttings, through little villages and market towns. Much of the landscape is unchanged and his description is lyrical.

It might seem that much of the book is about grief and hardship; about living without love. But it is the knowledge of love that informs his writing of loss. At the end of his life he is still able to recall minute details of his mother and the home that they lived in; the words that she spoke and the paths that they walked together.

She had so little to give him and so little time and yet she gave him everything that he needed.


Unknown said...

Interesting. Sounds like something I should read. The pictures of the IVY are interesting. We don't have anything like that here.

walter and me said...

Hello Alice, I'm delurking....having been a regular visitor to your blog for a while. Love your style - writing and photos...but most of all I have to thank you for introducing me to John Mcgahern. Memoir is so beautifully written. I'd never have come across had ytou not mentioned it. I've since read Amongst Women, and That They May Face The Rising Sun is in the pile waiting! Thank you! Diana