It's 1938, post-Depression, pre-WWII Catholic Queens, NY. Ten year old Kenneth Cadogan leads silent film star Clara Bow, a deranged WWI veteran who's obsessed with the actress, and his gang of friends who pretend to be cowboy heroes, in a search for missing television stock certificates. Kenneth also tries to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance after swimming in plain view of his son and his wife. Poking around in his father's haunts in their neighborhood, Kenneth uncovers mysteries about his father's life and marriage and demons. The search spreads to lower Manhattan and the Hoovervilles of Hoboken and Jersey City, culminating in the 1939 World's Fair in Flushing Meadow, a monumental technology showcase when television was first displayed to the mass public, and where surprises and missed chances compound the mystery. Buy it!
Enright's flexible syntax, and his weaving in and out of impression and meditation, illuminate these sixty-three extraordinary and memorable poems, written over the last twenty-five years. He enacts a double mood of nostalgia and skepticism, where he at once longs for the past and distrusts the powerful images his longing conjures. Enright's honesty toward the past, and his sense of memory as both essential and inadequate, heighten what is already a vivid constant irony. In "The Old Story," a dying father is shaved by his child, and the speaker listens to tales of the past and tempers them with his own desolate perception of approaching loss: "Though time demanded a new tradition, here/The waiting would go on, everyone wanting/Their new life to begin, the saddest life." In "My People," an alphabetical lexicon of the speaker's imagined family lineage since the beginning of time, mock biblical invocations ("so out of Bewilder, Churlish;/out of Dicey, Errant, who begat Fallow") mix with comic historical summaries ("Brutal litho years waited on the shore. Great beasts,/Not my uncles, lumbered through the forests, overeating./ The sense of change was born, and just in time,/But not for my people, scholars of the Mud and the Stick.") Buy it!
Goof was an "Editor's Choice" in The Baltimore Sun that summer, where Michael Pakenham wrote: "Digby Shaw's going on 14 when these perhaps only lightly fictionalized 13 little memoirs begin. As they end, he's a few months older, emerging from the eighth grade year that is about over. What happens in between is an enchanting, clean-cut, fresh-served personal panorama of discovery - of a wider world, of doubt about grown-ups' authority, of the tumults and turmoils of oncoming adolescence. But most of all, about growing up - not all at once, but, rather, in an utterly convincing, osmotic manner. Enright grew up a Marylander, and the narrative clearly came from here, but there is a universality about the tales that may capture the hearts of anyone who has brought up an eighth grader or has been one."
Contact Sean Enright to purchase an autographed copy.