An eclectic collection of early writing from long-time resident of Ireland Smith.
Parables, plays, poems, short and long prose–Smith has dabbled with each in an entertaining, over-the-top style. This collection charges out of the gate with The Book of Ramore, a story of minute observations about its main character Alexander and his breezily rendered progress from the crib to first job. Smith’s writing is clear and concise, giving the reader a child’s-eye view of life–from the gray days of the Blitz during World War II to the curious aspects of boarding school to Alexander’s first bouts with the National Service and dating–while sparing no uncomfortable detail. Smith dots the collection with his poetry, both lucid and sharp as broken glass, at times followed by the provocation that inspired the poem. The author’s plays have the brio of Italian satirical playwright Dario Fo, containing plenty of big ideas studded with bursts of agitation–anti-colonial, anti-war, anti-authority. Throughout, Smith displays a personal love of language, whether he is suspending his words like lanterns in a night-time garden or handling them like dangerous weapons. Stimulating controversy in politics, religion and sex is second nature to the author, who is comfortable with the suggestive and the explicit, but he also has the ability to transport readers to specific locales, be it a refectory kitchen, an abandoned island or a gloomy day at sea.
An involved, engrossing voice.