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A Ball of Fire

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  • “This collection is timeless” ––VaultOfBooks, GoodReads

Meet The Author

John Montague was one of Ireland’s leading poets and his work, which draws on that of various American masters, is recognised as being of international importance. Born in New York but reared in County Tyrone, John Montague rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s with his collections including Poisoned Lands and the long poem ‘The Rough Field’. In 1998 he became the first occupant of the Ireland Chair of Poetry. The Pear Is Ripe, published by Liberties Press in 2007, confirmed his reputation as a dazzling prose writer and memoirist. In 2010, he was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, France’s highest civil award. John Montague died in 2016.

John Montague, best known as a poet, was 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 Notebook (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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