A Ball of Fire: Collected Stories

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Liberties Press, 2009 - Fiction - 287 pages
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John Montague, best known as a poet, is also a gifted prose writer. A Ball of Fire collects all of his short stories, together with the erotic novella 'The Lost Notebook' (which he hoped to have banned, but which ended up winning a major literary prize). In the shorter stories, from 'The Road Ahead', which comments poignantly on the loss of established landmarks, to the title story, in which a series of chance encounters helps unlock a painter's creativity, he casts a cool yet sympathetic eye over his environment, both in Ireland and farther afield. The longer works - 'The Lost Notebooks' (about the incendiary relationship between a troubled American girl and a young Irish man in Florence), 'Death of a Chieftain' (a daringly ambitious story set in Mexico) and 'The Three Last Things' (a moving meditation on love and death) - stand as pillars within the book. Montague's clear prose is shot through with hard-won insights into his fellow human beings, and the various burdens, physical and emotional, under which they labour. And of course through it all runs the theme of the importance of love, in its many forms.

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The Road Also Taken
The Lost Notebook
A Love Present

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About the author (2009)

JOHN MONTAGUE is one of Ireland;s leading poets and his work, which draws on that of various American masters, is recognised as being of international importance. His 80th birthday, which was in February 2009, was widely marked in Ireland in print and broadcast media. Born in New York but reared in County Tyrone, John Montague rose to prominence in the 1960's and 1970's with his collections including Poisoned Lands and the long poem The Rough Field. Now with The Pear Is Ripe, he has confirmed his reputation as a dazzling prose writer and memoirist. The book recounts the time he spent teaching at the University of California Berkeley as the flower-power movement burgeoned in opposition to the continuing war in Vietnam. He recalls his departure from the States to France, where he witnessed the évènements of May 68 at first hand and from there to Dublin and Cork, where he continued to pursue his career as a poet and academic.

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