By: Desmond Hogan
Publication Date: October 2009
The eleven stories in Old Swords by Desmond Hogan, his first publication since Larks’ Eggs: New and Selected Stories (2005), collect newly minted shards of experience focused on the lives of the dreamers and marginalized who populate his imagined worlds. They range in time and place from France, Germany and Italy in the nineteenth century to Ireland of the 1950s and the present day. Their concerns are fragility and identity expressed through the outer semblances of dress and deportment, and inner realities of involuntary memory and the retrieval of shared pasts.
Close observation of nature combines with psychological unveilings, much of it in the form of erotic reverie. The bricolage of melded history and a fragmented modernism of Old Swords renders truth-to-experience like no other contemporary voice.
Desmond Hogan’s linguistic resourcefulness is unique to Irish letters, and each new gathering enlarges upon his reputation as one of Ireland’s most fearless and invigorating writers, who, in the words of film-maker Neil Jordan, ‘remakes the world every time he puts pen to paper.‘
‘In an age of sound bite and cliche, Hogan sets the standard both in his use of language and his intensely individual vision. He demonstrates that, at its artistic best, the short story is as rich and demanding as poetry.’ – The Irish Times
‘Hogan paints his picture with such tiny brushstrokes that the impression is not a narrative but a history, open-ended and amorphous, subject to change, but not boiled down into plot, character, beginning and end.‘ – Times Literary Supplement
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Desmond Hogan was born in Ballinasloe, East Galway, in December 1950. He has published five novels: The Ikon Maker (1976),The Leaves on Grey (1980), A Curious Street (1984), A New Shirt (1986) and A Farewell to Prague(1995), as well as four books of stories: The Diamonds at the Bottom of the Sea (1979), Children of Lir (1981), The Mourning Thief (1987) and Lebanon Lodge (1988), published in the USA in 1989 under the title A Link with the River. His travel writings, The Edge of the City, appeared in 1993. In 1971 he won the Hennessy Award, and in 1977 the Rooney Prize for Literature. He won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1980 and was awarded a DAAD Fellowship in Berlin in 1991. In 1989 he was writer-in-residence at the University of Alabama, and in 1997 taught at the University of California, San Diego.