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J. P. Donleavy has been writing now for forty-five years and, as he admits, an answer to the question why is ' difficult to dig out of a long past'. Yet over these pages he author's query is largely answered for him: he has written so much for so long because he writes so very well. From the banks of the Seine to the streets of the Bronx, from the stables of the Dublin Horse Show to cocktails at Claridge's, we are transported by these collected short pieces into the singular and spirited world of J. P. Donleavy. Bringing an uncommonly objective yet affectionate eye to his writings on his own birthplace, America, balancing unabashed adoration with good-humoured bewilderment in his depiction of his heart's home, Ireland, the author presents us with a fresh, engaging vista that could only be his own. Whether reviewing a book on sexual exercises for women or paying homage to Yeats, the impress is unmistakably Donleavy's. The initial publication of these pieces in various newspapers and journals around the world gave the author particular pleasure because he knew that he would reach people who were not normally book readers. However, he admits that the fate of most periodicals and newspapers is to be used to 'wrap fish, keep vagrants warm and help light fires'. Books, on the other hand, 'preserve their pages better between covers', and with their publication here he hopes that 'these pieces separately written over these many years can now keep each other company'. An Author and His Image offers a comprehensive overview of one of the most original and incisive voices of the last half-century.

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