Olympia and the Internet



Best known as a poet, Derek Mahon here gathers a further selection of recent prose pieces, autobiographical, critical and speculative, in a similar mode to his Red Sails (Gallery, 2014), notably on cinema, revision, clouds, caravans and horizons.

The volume includes ‘Rubbish Theory’, reflections on refuse in contemporary culture, and ‘The Rain Bridge’, a story for children. ‘School Photo and Early Reading’ remembers his young days in North Belfast; as does ‘Olympia and the Internet’, in praise of typewriters and dis-praise of information technology.

Mahon’s latest prose collection continues the theme of alienation and society found in his previous poetry and prose collection, Red Sails.

. . . Each piece makes an effortless approach to lure the reader into its narrative. This is a result of Mahon’s ability as a writer to bring together the universal thought with personal memory to seduce and entice.

. . . Mahon’s distrust of technology and his fears about its infringement on the personal permeate most of the prose in this collection, but he is astute in understanding that all things carry duality. This can be seen in ‘Rubbish Theory’ and in the title essay, where his paranoia concerning the power of information technology in particular can be seen explicitly. Yet he doesn’t belabour the reader with Luddite sentimentality and instead illustrates how digitisation can carry the potential for resistance, realising that through this new medium the language of poetry has the power to resist: ‘Poetry, that strange persistent are made up — ideally — of soul, song, and formal necessity, survives and even thrives in the digital age; thrives, perhaps, because of digitalisation.’

. . . the craftsmanship, right down to its reading order, invokes the cyclical nature and the overarching themes of his work.

— Matthew Farrelly, Books Ireland

Year Published: 2017
Details: 88pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 91133 710 2
ISBN HBK: 978 1 91133 711 9

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