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The Woodcutter and his Family
My son betrayed me. It is a family tradition.
Didn't I do the same to my father?
The World War intensifies in Europe. In Zurich a writer breathes his last imagining his life till now from his childhood in Dublin.
The voices of his family circling him - wife, son, daughter - carry him to his end as he hears each separate chapter chronicling the power of their passion for their famous father, their love, their hate, their need, their sorrows and joys, their strangeness.
And James Joyce has saved for them one last story to delight and defy them: The Woodcutter And His Children ...
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What Reviewers Are Saying
What an intricate and fascinating read The Woodcutter and His Family is. I found myself horrified, entertained, amused and sometimes bewildered as I read * Linda's Book Bag * It has the texture of a masterwork -- uncompromising, adroit, properly audacious, the offspring of a radiant curiosity. * Sebastian Barry * beautifully written, tender and psychologically-complex story of family life ... rather than focusing solely on Joyce's perspective, Frank McGuinness gives equal space in his novel to son Archie, wife Bertha and daughter Beatrice (named differently from Joyce's actual family) before plunging into James Joyce's point of view ... No doubt, a lot of Joyce fans will enjoy this personal and poetic take on the lives of James Joyce and his family members. In particular, in James' section it delves into his notoriously luke-warm personal interactions with Proust. Joyce hilariously refers to Proust's magnum opus as "Cooking for Phantoms." ... More than its depiction of the great writer, this is a novel which gracefully encompasses so much of what makes Irish literature mesmerising. "The Woodcutter and His Family" is suffused with a bewitchingly morbid sense of humour and voices which insist on being heard * lonesomereader.com * poignant. The prose is lyrical and lively, and the book is liberally sprinkled with a mischievous, bawdy esprit that it's subject would surely have approved of * Irish Times * a book that will appeal to all James Joyce fans, both new and old ... With The Woodcutter and His Family, Frank McGuinness has written a very unique tribute to this man, James Joyce, who will always be known as one of the most influential yet unconventional writers of the 20th century * writing.ie * McGuinness combines an interim stream of consciousness and classic Joycean dialogue to evoke a tragic, obsessive parental arrangement between a genius writer and his manipulative, yet inspring, wife ... McGuinness is best known as an award-winning playwright, particularly for his highly acclaimed Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme. As Professor of Creative Writing at University College Dublin, this novel suggests he must bring exceptional learning and inspiration to his students * Sunday Independent * a novel worth reading for the luxuriant use of words - for anyone who relishes great writing it has much to offer * Evening Echo * McGuinness has created a beautiful and lyrical novel about the complications of life, and the inevitable, death and grief. Insightful in its Joycean homage, it delves the depths of memory, guilt and grief * RTE.ie/Culture * remarkable novel ... poignant and disturbing ... only an acclaimed Irish author and scholar such as Frank McGuinness could pull the whole thing off so successfully. The novel is a visual and sensory homage to Ireland, and is steeped in the most perspicacious understanding of Joyce's life and work, whose obsession with the land of his birth nevertheless required him to be an exile from it in order to fulfil his destiny as an "artist". This pitch-perfect novel will haunt you long after the final page is turned. -- TLS The Woodcutter and His Family offers a bold and imaginative understanding of complex, agonized characters who have leeched into McGuinness's brain * James Joyce Broadsheet *