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A Runner Among Falling Leaves: A Story of Childhood
Publisher: Liverpool University Press | 2005-02-15 | ISBN: 0853239479 | PDF | 176 pages | 1.33 MB

A photograph of poet Ciaran O'Driscoll taken when he was eight or nine by his father shows a radiantly smiling child, seemingly at home with his family and the world. But that photo is an anomaly; the boy's face was far more often darkened by a pensive, distant frown. The sources of O'Driscoll's adolescent melancholy—and its lingering traces in his adult life—are the subject of his evocative memoir, A Runner Among Falling Leaves.

Born in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1943, Ciaran O'Driscoll grew up in a home shadowed by the bullying and abuse of his father. The violence O'Driscoll suffered at the hands of his father in his home was traumatic, but in many respects it paled in comparison to the public humiliation his father meted out to the boy at school, where he served as O'Driscoll's teacher. The dual role his father played left the child no place of refuge, no escape from the constant mental cruelty and physical pain, and the scars of that upbringing continue to haunt the author today.

In crystalline prose, O'Driscoll gives voice to the silent child in his memories, exploring the unnerving, roiling emotions of those years from the perspective of adulthood. The story moves back and forth, from the boy to the man, as O'Driscoll reconstructs his lost childhood in order to unearth the roots of the man he has become. Lyrical, affecting, and even at times darkly comic, A Runner Among Falling Leaves is an unforgettable portrait of an Irish boyhood.

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