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The Sun is Open

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The Sun is Open sifts through a boxed archive of public and private materials related to the life and death of the author's father, who was murdered by the IRA outside their Belfast home in 1984. Moving between child and adult voices, past and present, this startlingly innovative debut attempts to decode the fragments left behind and, with them, piece together a history an The Sun is Open sifts through a boxed archive of public and private materials related to the life and death of the author's father, who was murdered by the IRA outside their Belfast home in 1984. Moving between child and adult voices, past and present, this startlingly innovative debut attempts to decode the fragments left behind and, with them, piece together a history and a life. 'Each page of The Sun Is Open is rich with exquisite and surprising language, pain, and wisdom.' - Maggie Nelson 'The Sun is Open employs a grammar in which everything is significant, from Wendy Houses, to the very hairs of your head, to the poetry of First Aid instructions, to slaters. This is meticulous and painstaking - sometimes pain-making work - making the words fit the columns, be they inches of newsprint or entries in an Account Book, negotiating or nudging the meanings into alternative senses. A series of ethical considerations and transactions, credits and debits that sometimes demand to be accounted for, or judged, or at least spoken of in the light of whatever the forensics might or might never unfold.' - Ciaran Carson


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The Sun is Open sifts through a boxed archive of public and private materials related to the life and death of the author's father, who was murdered by the IRA outside their Belfast home in 1984. Moving between child and adult voices, past and present, this startlingly innovative debut attempts to decode the fragments left behind and, with them, piece together a history an The Sun is Open sifts through a boxed archive of public and private materials related to the life and death of the author's father, who was murdered by the IRA outside their Belfast home in 1984. Moving between child and adult voices, past and present, this startlingly innovative debut attempts to decode the fragments left behind and, with them, piece together a history and a life. 'Each page of The Sun Is Open is rich with exquisite and surprising language, pain, and wisdom.' - Maggie Nelson 'The Sun is Open employs a grammar in which everything is significant, from Wendy Houses, to the very hairs of your head, to the poetry of First Aid instructions, to slaters. This is meticulous and painstaking - sometimes pain-making work - making the words fit the columns, be they inches of newsprint or entries in an Account Book, negotiating or nudging the meanings into alternative senses. A series of ethical considerations and transactions, credits and debits that sometimes demand to be accounted for, or judged, or at least spoken of in the light of whatever the forensics might or might never unfold.' - Ciaran Carson

30 review for The Sun is Open

  1. 5 out of 5

    rosamund

    This moving, controlled narrative poem reflects on a childhood experienced in the wake of a father's murder by the IRA. The poem begins with this simple piece: ON THE MORNING of March 6th, 1984, Mr William McConnell, assistant governor of Maze Prison, was outside his home, checking underneath his car for explosive devices when he was shot dead in front of his wife and three-year-old daughter. This establishes the trauma explored in this book-length poem, and the main characters: father, mother, daug This moving, controlled narrative poem reflects on a childhood experienced in the wake of a father's murder by the IRA. The poem begins with this simple piece: ON THE MORNING of March 6th, 1984, Mr William McConnell, assistant governor of Maze Prison, was outside his home, checking underneath his car for explosive devices when he was shot dead in front of his wife and three-year-old daughter. This establishes the trauma explored in this book-length poem, and the main characters: father, mother, daughter. At over 100 pages, this is long for a book of poetry, but it's also carefully judged: the reader is gripped, rather than overwhelmed, by the unfolding exploration. It's also an expansive piece, capturing different perspectives on the father, on childhood, and the myriad of experiences, both good and bad, experienced in the wake of trauma. McConnell uses short lines that travel in a column down the page, almost like newsprint, giving us a sense that we are reading reports from the centre of action. She even describes her process, saying "I'm making soft returns / for this you need two keys SHIFT / and ENTER to go down the line / carries on the carriage moving / back." The poem also contains quotes from a number of different sources, primarily diaries and books belonging to William McConnell but also newspaper clippings and pieces from the Bible and Shakespeare. McConnell establishes a childhood rich in experiences -- the indulgence of a sweet shop ("apple tarts brandy / balls clove rock"), the pleasure of a beach, the mother's affection and care, intercut with "The Tremblies we call it when my / body shakes can't make it stop" and muses on the father's role as a prison guard, and the complexities of the Troubles. It's also a book concerned with time: how certain moment weigh more heavily in our lives than others, how time doesn't always move in a linear way, how the past presses into the present. The poem grapples with huge emotions as well as seismic political issues, and refuses to be simplistic or partisan. Its power rests in its complexity and its depth. McConnell's voice is memorable and full of power.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tom Stanger

    The Sun is Open is the remarkable and incredibly personal debut from Gail McConnell reflecting on her childhood in Belfast and the death of her father, who was killed by the IRA in front of their home in 1984. Whilst flitting between McConnell’s adult perspective and childhood memories of family life, playing games, family holidays, school and watching television, The Sun is Open paints a vivid portrayal of a youth many of us will immediately relate to being children in the early to mid-1980s. Ing The Sun is Open is the remarkable and incredibly personal debut from Gail McConnell reflecting on her childhood in Belfast and the death of her father, who was killed by the IRA in front of their home in 1984. Whilst flitting between McConnell’s adult perspective and childhood memories of family life, playing games, family holidays, school and watching television, The Sun is Open paints a vivid portrayal of a youth many of us will immediately relate to being children in the early to mid-1980s. Ingeniously embracing a unique style, combining a variety of sources, ranging from the Bible to resuscitation techniques with a vivid narrative that almost makes grammar feel redundant, yet gives it an air of spontaneity and continuity of the likes Jack Kerouac created during writing his original version of On the Road. However, this spontaneity hides well-crafted prose, making each passage ever more significant than the last. As a singular poem stretching through the entire book, it’s easy to get carried away with the book, even with the understanding of where and when the book is set, there’s a warmth that imbibes every page, painting a personal testament not just to McConnell’s father but also a childhood which remains a vivid and crucial time of life and history. The Sun is Open contains a treasure box of literary style and deeply personal memoir of a time and understanding that amid the troubles life still went on among the personal tragedies that prevailed.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robin Brown

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nina Powles

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  6. 4 out of 5

    Angus Allen

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  8. 4 out of 5

    William E. Dudley

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wyrd Witch

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ondřej Trhoň

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ivan Loginov

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jess Mc

  13. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  14. 4 out of 5

    Meekly

  15. 4 out of 5

    Romilly

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kai

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marko Jerina

  18. 5 out of 5

    TIKA TUASIKAL

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Deegan

  20. 4 out of 5

    James

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Tyler

  22. 5 out of 5

    Zofia

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie Morrissy

  24. 4 out of 5

    Clement Sagacious

  25. 5 out of 5

    Biru Aldebaran

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carina

  27. 5 out of 5

    Noa

  28. 5 out of 5

    mona pokémona

  29. 5 out of 5

    Omolara Anisere

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris

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