An Dantomine Eerly
An Dantomine Eerly
Dark Coast Press, Paperback, 9780984428809, 154pp.
Publication Date: March 30, 2010
As the Irish-American poet Dallin lay dying he recalls the surreal geography and traumatic events that lead to his end. An absence in a wind-beaten house suggests a past but somehow still-looming tragedy; vacancy fills a ghostly barroom and the campus of a condemned university; city streets and desolated forests are populated by no one except the formulations of Dallin’s own mind. The ailed poet and his beautiful, haunting wife Aìsling flee an obscure political persecution that culminates in her planned murder. The impact of her death afflicts Dallin in ways he cannot comprehend and spirals him into his meeting with the mythic celestial escort, An Dantomine Eerly.
An Dantomine Eerly is fine experimental writing, using narrative techniques, dream-world symbolism, and a poetic style of prose that takes up John Banville’s admittance “to blend poetry and fiction into some new form.” The novel itself is a re-conception of the 17th century Irish poetic form of the aisling, meaning “dream vision” or “vision poem.” As Dallin confronts his moment of death, the book assembles itself as a collage of the affinities, falsehoods, and absurdities of memory and reality.
Comparisons to pre-discovery Chuck Palahnuik (Fight Club) and early David Foster Wallace (The Broom Of The System) have been made, as well as the influence of older, experimental works. The result is a stylized exploration of the infinite world through the microscope of Middleton’s ill-fated narrator, and above all, a promising debut.
"It's experimental, surrealist fiction about the end of a poet's life. Eerly calls back to centuries of Irish literary tradition, from the aisling (a patriotic lyric poem from the 17th century with dozens of bizarre constraints) to James Joyce's giddy molestation of language."
Paul Constant, The Stranger
"Identities are never fully clear in this Gothic tale of romance and sex. The language that provides clues as to their appearance and character shines and shifts with something larger than beings of skin and bone. Its language is a liminal one, haunting the borders of life and death, ideas and reality, with a mournful, incendiary resonance. At the heart of this book is a deep romanticism, a dusky tenuity that thwarts and lures, conceals and reveals, confusing actuality with hallucination . . . [An Dantomine Eerly] sounds as if Charles Bukowski had suddenly been possessed by the spirit of Matthew Arnold. As if Dover Beach suddenly became Venice Beach, and the acerbic barfly a quixotic scholar gypsy. . . Middleton's language is chimerical."John Olson, author of Souls of Wind and The Nothing That Is