Today is the second of two posts I’m excited to share with you for this year’s #30Authors event. Put together by Allison at The Book Wheel, #30Authors is a fantastic chance to connect with authors and find out what books they recommend. I’m especially excited to welcome today’s author, Darragh McKeon, because I loved his debut novel, All That is Solid Melts Into Air. Although I gave it 4 stars at the time, it’s a book that has stuck with me as one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’d particularly recommend it to fans of A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon. So, given how much I loved his book, I can’t wait to hear about the book he has to share with us today!
Review of Jeff Jackson’s Mira Corpora by Darragh McKeon
‘In talking about the past, we lie with every breath we draw’, writes William Maxwell. The autobiographical novel has taken many twists in recent years, but few writers have managed the feat with the vision and audacity of Jeff Jackson.
Even the title of Jackson’s novel claims a novelistic space that currently seems to be his alone: Mira Corporea – a Latin term meaning ‘strange and usual bodies’ – perfectly encapsulates the reading experience. The novel is a strange, quixotic beast – constantly raw, shape-shifting and rooted in the origins of tribal ritual.
Jackson structures the novel around a collection of surreal, teenage journals that explore the subterranean territory of the self. Whether these origins arise from real artefact or a fictional device is irrelevant in the skill of the author’s hands. The world they support is a fully formed urban dystopia of haunted amusement parks, teenage hobo camps, feral woodlands, and low-fi machinations. Jackson is far from the first to inhabit these territories, but it is within the realm of writing, identity and ritual that he comes into his own. Rarely have such arenas been inhabited with an emotional honesty that not only justifies and creates the rich landscapes, but surpasses them, so that finally it is the character, ‘Jeff Jackson’ that ascends, a strange and unusual body that, that lingers in the chambers of the imagination, long after reading.
A young narrator, left in the woods to be ravaged by dogs, prepares himself to write, and then shuttles us through segments of a life from childhood to manhood. Drooling, tormented rockstars, pill-popping oracles, perverted truckers are the lodestars for the journey. Gibbons roam the pages. Nothing is unlikely. And the reader is left, as with all the best artistic experiences, struggling to articulate what has been experienced.
A book that effortlessly inhabits the wastelands of a culture, a vision that is stumbled upon at a parking lot in a midnight hinterland. Mira Corpora is an incandescent wonder.
Buy the Book
#30Authors is an annual event connecting readers, authors, and bloggers. Throughout the month of September, 30 authors review their favorite books on 30 blogs in 30 days. The event has been met with incredible support from and success within the literary community. In the six months following the event’s inaugural launch, the concept was published as an anthology by Velvet Morning Press (Legacy: An Anthology). Started by The Book Wheel, #30Authors remains active throughout the year and you can join in the fun by following along on Twitter at @30Authors, using the hashtag, #30Authors, or purchasing the anthology. To learn more about the event and to see the full schedule, please click here.
From Ireland, Darragh McKeon has worked as a theatre director throughout Europe and the USA. He lives in New York. All That is Solid Melts Into Air is his debut novel.