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The Pear Is Ripe

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  • “There were giants on the earth in those days. Let us give thanks for what Montague has preserved of them here.” ––Tom Mathews, Stinging Fly magazine
  • “A life fully lived makes for a gripping read. . . . There are brilliant accounts of his friendship with a polyphony of poets, Irish and American, and poignant descriptions of the erosion of his first marriage and last farewells to Seán Ó Riada and Samuel Beckett.” —Sean McMahon, Verbal magazine
  • “All in all . . . reading this autobiography is a mellow experience, and mandatory for all investigators and students of the Irish literary community.” ––James Liddy, Irish Times

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.

The Pear Is Ripe confirmed John Montague’s reputation as a dazzling prose writer and memoirist. The book is full of warm anecdotes and wry observations on the numerous figures from the literary, artistic and musical worlds that John Montague encountered, befriended – and occasionally provoked. Montague recounts his personal and professional relationships with such luminaries as Patrick Kavanagh, Allen Ginsberg and, as co-founder of Claddagh Records, composer Seán Ó Riada, and there is a fascinating account of a meeting with Charles Haughey – which may have led ultimately to the introduction of the artist’s tax exemption.

This memoir covers a period of great international social change. The book recounts the time Montague spent teaching at the University of California Berkeley as the flower-power movement burgeoned in opposition to the continuing war in Vietnam, and his departure from the US to France, where he witnessed the évènements of May 1968 at first hand. Montague saw it all, and commented on it with his customary sympathy, wit and wry humour.

While much of the book covers the writer’s public and literary life, it also addresses the strain that living apart from his wife Madeleine placed on their marriage – which would ultimately lead to the break-up of the relationship. In the moving epilogue, the author recounts visiting young men with AIDS in a New York hospital, and of a final meeting with an ailing Samuel Beckett in Paris. In short, The Pear Is Ripe is a shimmering piece of writing, and one of the finest autobiographical works by an Irish writer.

Weight 0.608 kg
Binding