An Dantomine Eerly by Jarret Middleton
You are invited to witness Dallin’s passage into death. The ailing poet distantly recalls his own life through the language of a damaged psyche and the symbols of a spirit upended by violent transformation. In this, memories abound: an old, wind beaten house where a palpable absence suggests a past but somehow still-looming tragedy; vacancy permeates a ghostly barroom and the campus of a condemned university; city streets and desolated forests are populated by no one except the changing formulations of Dallin’s own mind. His inner conflict reigns, and the geography takes on the disorientation and divisiveness at the center of us all. Along with his wife Aìsling, the two flee an obscure political persecution which leads to her graphic, methodically planned murder. The impact of her death afflicts a lone Dallin in ways he cannot comprehend, spiraling him headlong into his meeting with the mythic celestial escort, An Dantomine Eerly.
This original debut is a skillful re-conception of the old Irish poetic form the aìsling, literally meaning “dream vision” or “vision-poem.” As a reader you are personally addressed, called to the role of interpreter and revelator, allowing the story to unfold towards its strange, genre-defying conclusion. Through you, this story affords its telling. Dallin sends his regards.
Jarret Middleton is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Dark Coast Press. He is the author of An Dantomine Eerly and other fiction. He has been profiled in Shelf Awareness and The Stranger as an up-and-coming independent publisher. His writing has appeared in The Collagist, Smalldoggies, Big Other, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Nervous Breakdown, Black Rose, Strike, Slingshot, and Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices. He lives in Seattle, WA.
“It’s experimental, surrealist fiction about the end of a poet’s life. Eerly calls back to centuries of Irish literary tradition, from the aisling (a patriotic lyric poem from the 17th century with dozens of bizarre constraints) to James Joyce’s giddy molestation of language.” Paul Constant, The Stranger
“Middleton sails into the Celtic mystic, cherry-picking from the genre for elements of full effect and evocation. An account about the end of a poet’s life and what lies beyond, the tale is a mind-strangling though always kaleidoscopic and enticing exploration of existence in which the esoteric escort, the psychopomp, An Dantomine Eerly—Bringer of Death or Ascended Master, Boatman, Angel—guides the reader in a quest to trace the fate of a dying poet . . . The extraordinary An Dantomine Eerly rolls more trippingly off the tongue with each pronunciation.” Gordon Hauptfleisch, San Diego Union Tribune Books
“Identities are never fully clear in this Gothic tale of romance and sex. The language that provides clues as to their appearance and character shines and shifts with something larger than beings of skin and bone. Its language is a liminal one, haunting the borders of life and death, ideas and reality, with a mournful, incendiary resonance. At the heart of this book is a deep romanticism, a dusky tenuity that thwarts and lures, conceals and reveals, confusing actuality with hallucination . . . [An Dantomine Eerly] sounds as if Charles Bukowski had suddenly been possessed by the spirit of Matthew Arnold. As if Dover Beach suddenly became Venice Beach, and the acerbic barfly a quixotic scholar gypsy. As if they could somehow be both, in the same body.” John Olson, author of Souls of Wind and The Nothing That Is
“An Dantomine Eerly is dark, its landscapes phantasmagorical, and yet it manages to capture an ethereal, near-philosophic quality about its ancient New England setting and those who may have lived there. The environment dictates the madness, taking on character where other characters are missing. Ultimately, what these naturalist and gothic writers have in common, and what Middleton evokes, is the search for the identity of a self that needs unification. Like Gertrude Stein, it is about language but also nothing at all, the delineation of things, process, and upkeep. The action here is the stillness that can only be achieved after a disaster, a sift through confusion, or an epic process, and it is as beautiful as it is succinct.” Greg Bem, The Collagist
“This book is a surreal exploration of death and the secrets that lie at the end of the universe, [. . . ] whether or not you pick up on all of the vast meaning, it’s like reading a painting;you might not know precisely what the creator meant to say, but it’s still beautiful to look at, and you get the sense that there’s something profound just beyond your grasp.” Bibliophibia
“An Dantomine Eerly takes the reader on an intellectual ride . . . Profusely prolific in an amazingly short amount of space . . . An Dantomine Eerly [was as] engaging a read as I had hoped, . . . I would recommend this book to readers looking for an intellectual read as well as book groups that like a challenging book to discuss.” Rundpinne