Before the Wax Hardened by Adrian Kenny

Browser review

Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 00:00

   
 

Book Title:
Before the Wax Hardened

ISBN-13:
9781843517108

Author:
Adrian Kenny

Publisher:
Lilliput Press

Guideline Price:
€15.00

Adrian Kenny deserves to be better known. Married to Ruth Webster, longtime doyenne of the wonderful Books Upstairs, Kenny has produced some beauties – The Family Business, Istanbul Diary, Portobello Notebook, all with the Lilliput Press. First published in 1991, Before the Wax Hardened straddles dualities – the home place in Mayo against bourgeois Dublin 6; the earthy sexuality of the family’s “maid”, her room smelling of sweat and talcum powder, against his Mama, she praying the memoir project would fail, desperately fearing revelation; the intensity of being part of a big family against the terror of going out into the world. A phenomenal capacity to render dialogue from the long ago on a par with uber master Aidan Higgins, Kenny’s figures spring to life via their own words. His description of the nervous collapse – extreme sensitivity against the necessity to stand alone – is wonderfully told; his brain-fevered rush home produces giant phalluses, a terror that he is “queer”. Deadly.