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All Down Darkness Wide: A Memoir

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By turns devastating and soaring, an ambitious memoir debut from one of Irish literature's rising stars, Seán Hewitt When Seán Hewitt meets Elias, the two fall headlong into a love story. But as Elias struggles with severe depression, the couple comes face-to-face with crisis. All Down Darkness Wide is a perceptive and unflinching meditation on the burden of living in a By turns devastating and soaring, an ambitious memoir debut from one of Irish literature's rising stars, Seán Hewitt When Seán Hewitt meets Elias, the two fall headlong into a love story. But as Elias struggles with severe depression, the couple comes face-to-face with crisis. All Down Darkness Wide is a perceptive and unflinching meditation on the burden of living in a world that too often sets happiness and queer life at odds, and a tender and honest portrayal of what it's like to be caught in the undertow of a loved one's mental illness. As lives are made and unmade, this memoir asks what love can endure and what it cannot. Delving deep into his own history, enlisting the ghosts of queer figures before him, Hewitt plumbs the darkness in search of answers. From a nineteenth-century cemetery in Liverpool to a sacred grotto in the Pyrenees, it is a journey of lonely discovery followed by the light of community. Haunted by the rites of Catholicism and specters of shame, it is nevertheless marked by an insistent search for beauty. Hewitt captures transcendent moments in nature with exquisite lyricism, honors the power of reciprocated desire, and provides a master class in the incredible force of unsparing specificity. All Down Darkness Wide illuminates a path ahead for queer literature and for the literature of heartbreak striking a piercing and resonant chord for all who trace Hewitt's dauntless footsteps.


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By turns devastating and soaring, an ambitious memoir debut from one of Irish literature's rising stars, Seán Hewitt When Seán Hewitt meets Elias, the two fall headlong into a love story. But as Elias struggles with severe depression, the couple comes face-to-face with crisis. All Down Darkness Wide is a perceptive and unflinching meditation on the burden of living in a By turns devastating and soaring, an ambitious memoir debut from one of Irish literature's rising stars, Seán Hewitt When Seán Hewitt meets Elias, the two fall headlong into a love story. But as Elias struggles with severe depression, the couple comes face-to-face with crisis. All Down Darkness Wide is a perceptive and unflinching meditation on the burden of living in a world that too often sets happiness and queer life at odds, and a tender and honest portrayal of what it's like to be caught in the undertow of a loved one's mental illness. As lives are made and unmade, this memoir asks what love can endure and what it cannot. Delving deep into his own history, enlisting the ghosts of queer figures before him, Hewitt plumbs the darkness in search of answers. From a nineteenth-century cemetery in Liverpool to a sacred grotto in the Pyrenees, it is a journey of lonely discovery followed by the light of community. Haunted by the rites of Catholicism and specters of shame, it is nevertheless marked by an insistent search for beauty. Hewitt captures transcendent moments in nature with exquisite lyricism, honors the power of reciprocated desire, and provides a master class in the incredible force of unsparing specificity. All Down Darkness Wide illuminates a path ahead for queer literature and for the literature of heartbreak striking a piercing and resonant chord for all who trace Hewitt's dauntless footsteps.

41 review for All Down Darkness Wide: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alwynne

    “The great Muriel Rukeyser asked, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” And I think that could be said again. What would happen if a queer person told the truth about their life? Maybe the world might be queerer, might be (in the words of Hopkins) more “counter, original, spare, strange”, than we previously thought.” Poet, academic and Irish Times critic Seán Hewitt’s exquisitely-written memoir develops themes, and explores territory, that wil “The great Muriel Rukeyser asked, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” And I think that could be said again. What would happen if a queer person told the truth about their life? Maybe the world might be queerer, might be (in the words of Hopkins) more “counter, original, spare, strange”, than we previously thought.” Poet, academic and Irish Times critic Seán Hewitt’s exquisitely-written memoir develops themes, and explores territory, that will be familiar to anyone who knows his poetry: an intense connection with the natural world; meditations on mortality; his immense grief at the loss of his father; struggles with his identity and with what it is, or was, to grow up gay in an overwhelmingly heterosexual world, and at its centre his troubled relationship with his former partner Elias. They met, fell in love and eventually moved to Elias’s home in Gothenburg, Sweden. There they planned to live together while Elias studied and Hewitt worked on a thesis examining the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins. At first everything went to plan but then Elias was overwhelmed by depression and thoughts of suicide, and both their lives underwent a momentous change. Hewitt’s account of their time together, the guilt, the anguish, the uncertainty, is deeply moving, close to self-laceratingly direct, the beauty and precision of his prose almost at odds with the trauma he’s recounting. Interwoven with Hewitt’s experiences are elements of the verse and life histories of two poets: Manley Hopkins whose queer desires were a lifelong source of torment and shame; and Swedish poet Karin Boyes whose death by suicide was precipitated by the death of the woman she loved. The result’s an incredibly evocative, memorable and thought-provoking piece. Highly recommended. Thanks to Edelweiss and publisher Penguin Press for an arc

  2. 5 out of 5

    emma

    memoirs are the best. have you ever wished books could be both true and not boring? welcome to the dream scenario (thanks to the publisher for the ARC)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gwen

    Lovely language in the service of searing honesty. He writes of men who haunt him still, and by extension, the very idea of haunting. Hewitt allows us close enough to share the heartbreak which has too often been accepted as the only trajectory of a life like his.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ayesha the Great (Happier Than Ever)

    BOOK: I am a memoir about a gay Irishman and his lover- ME: TAKE ME TO CHURCH, I'LL WORSHIP LIKE A DOG AT THE SHRINE OF YOUR LIES- BOOK: I am a memoir about a gay Irishman and his lover- ME: TAKE ME TO CHURCH, I'LL WORSHIP LIKE A DOG AT THE SHRINE OF YOUR LIES-

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessie S

    I flew through this book, blown away by the author’s lyricism and poignant descriptions. Seán Hewitt’s background in poetry really reflects itself into his view of the world in these pages. At times joyful, other times meditative and searching, All Down Darkness Wide reveals so much about ourselves as human beings: how to reckon with an identity that you’ve had to repress, how to struggle with caring for a loved one with mental illness, and how to survive day to day. It’s colorful and adventitiou I flew through this book, blown away by the author’s lyricism and poignant descriptions. Seán Hewitt’s background in poetry really reflects itself into his view of the world in these pages. At times joyful, other times meditative and searching, All Down Darkness Wide reveals so much about ourselves as human beings: how to reckon with an identity that you’ve had to repress, how to struggle with caring for a loved one with mental illness, and how to survive day to day. It’s colorful and adventitious, and one I couldn’t recommend more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eoin Mulligan

    When I die, I want this added to a list entitled “things that changed his life.” This memoir, written by the poet Sean Hewitt, really is quite an achievement. An ode to love, loss, poetry, queerness, shame, bodies, mental health, family, transformations, memory and the beauty of reclaiming something we didn’t lose, but purposefully left behind.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shane Indeglia

  8. 5 out of 5

    Henry

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  10. 5 out of 5

    Barnett

  11. 4 out of 5

    Connor Johnston

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura Dermody

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nick Ash

  14. 4 out of 5

    Faraya

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  16. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jess

  19. 4 out of 5

    Helga

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gray Eveleigh

  21. 5 out of 5

    Holly

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn J Kvam

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kai Spellmeier

  24. 4 out of 5

    Guilherme Vinicius

  25. 4 out of 5

    SEBS

  26. 4 out of 5

    Casey Cotton

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mah E Noe

  29. 4 out of 5

    cali

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tiago

  31. 5 out of 5

    Shaun Ferguson

  32. 4 out of 5

    Branco Patteeuw

  33. 4 out of 5

    FinnB

  34. 5 out of 5

    Ambar Sahil Chatterjee

  35. 4 out of 5

    carina

  36. 5 out of 5

    Emily DeSoto

  37. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

  38. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  39. 4 out of 5

    Elsa

  40. 5 out of 5

    Paris (parisperusing)

  41. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

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