By Desmond Hogan
Following a crippling melancholy and institutionalization, the author Desmond wanders from his local Dublin round an more and more unrecognizable Europe, and so far as the southern usa, assembling a patchwork of small tales, conversations, amorous affairs, stories, regrets, and confrontations: “the labyrinth of news of individuals whose lives you contact . . . in order that your brain turns into like a polychromatic Irish pub.” no matter if a chain of tragic postcards, a cubist novel, or a memoir shorn of its connective tissue, A Farewell to Prague stands as Desmond Hogan’s maximum fulfillment: a catalog of the moments that justify a life—or shine a gentle on its vacancy.
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Extra resources for A Farewell to Prague (Irish Literature Series)
Darkness in the bus, a last bit of the sunset reflected on a window and the headlights of cars lighting up faces. One black woman with a huge swollen eye in sudden illumination. At a filling station, just before we drove into North Carolina, the breeze fresher and even intoxicating, the radio played Willie Nelson’s ‘Always on My Mind’. In the Midwest I visited an old couple who’d once hosted me in the United States when I was there for a sojourn as one of a group. A Chinese woman, a melon-orange shawl around her, wheeled an old man with wispish, almost albino hair, where he wasn’t bald, over an iced lake.
The women wore black. ’ one of them asked me. There were fields of winter barley in the hills around Assisi. On the way back I lost my ticket and hitched through the mountains, arriving in Florence as it was snowing, warming myself in a café by the Arno where there were men dressed as women, in fur coats, resplendent wigs, one in a dress of many-hued bugle-beads. 52 Marilyn Monroe singing ‘River of No Return’ was playing on the juke-box. Perhaps it was beginning then, in a room in San Francisco, what had been overtaking me for years, a breakdown.
But she was returning to the three-tier trays of cakes in Bewleys and the prospective boy-lovers from Rathmines and Rathgar and Monkstown. ‘Remember you told me how that blond solicitor leaned towards you in the toilet in Toners. ’ She wore a white blouse the night before I left Prague, silver caterpillar brooch on it, a little black hat, spears of black lace standing up on it, black leaves imprinted on the lace. Her face was nearly that of a skeleton, powdered and pearled. She sat beside me, singing along with ‘La Paloma’ as usual, head bowed.