A Runner Among Falling Leaves: A Story of Childhood by Ciaran O'Driscoll

By Ciaran O'Driscoll

A picture of poet Ciaran O'Driscoll taken whilst he used to be 8 or 9 through his father indicates a radiantly smiling baby, doubtless at domestic along with his kinfolk and the area. yet that picture is an anomaly; the boy's face was once way more usually darkened by way of a pensive, far away frown. The assets of O'Driscoll's adolescent melancholy—and its lingering lines in his grownup life—are the topic of his evocative memoir, A Runner between Falling Leaves . Born in Kilkenny, eire in 1943, Ciaran O'Driscoll grew up in a house shadowed by means of the bullying and abuse of his father. The violence O'Driscoll suffered by the hands of his father in his domestic used to be anxious, yet in lots of respects it paled compared to the general public humiliation his father meted out to the boy in school, the place he served as O'Driscoll's instructor. the twin function his father performed left the kid no position of shelter, no break out from the consistent psychological cruelty and actual ache, and the scars of that upbringing proceed to hang-out the writer at the present time. In crystalline prose, O'Driscoll supplies voice to the silent baby in his thoughts, exploring the unnerving, roiling feelings of these years from the viewpoint of maturity. the tale strikes from side to side, from the boy to the guy, as O'Driscoll reconstructs his misplaced early life so one can unearth the roots of the fellow he has develop into. Lyrical, affecting, or even now and then darkly comedian, A Runner between Falling Leaves is an unforgettable portrait of an Irish boyhood.

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I thought an orbit was a hole in a kind of crust up above the earth, that sealed in earth and sky from outer space. Rockets and spaceships had to aim at these holes or else they wouldn’t get out. I don’t know how I reconciled 51 ODriscoll_Part1 51 15/10/01, 10:49 am      this idea with the fact that the moon and sun, which I knew to be in outer space, could be plainly seen. Looking at a photograph of a lunar crater in The National Geographic, I decided that it must be a hole in some kind of crust up above the sky; and having read a paragraph underneath the picture, which mentioned the word orbit, I concluded that the word was the name for this kind of hole.

Helpless parents have written about how they had to suffer in silence, watching their children suffer and unable 33 ODriscoll_Part1 33 15/10/01, 10:49 am      to do anything about it. A child beaten because a labouring man couldn’t provide her with two pence in mid-week for a supposedly voluntary elocution class; a child ostracised by his teacher for being out of school for a week because of illness. The parents helpless because they have exhausted all recourse and cannot find another school within walking distance.

But in a way she was a philosopher, with an understanding of cause and effect far superior to that of my father and all the others in the social strata above her. But the children whose mental and physical injuries are described in the pamphlet were perhaps, comparatively speaking, lucky. The fact that a letter was sent to the Schoolchildren’s Protection Organization meant that their parents, or some relative or adult friend, sympathized with them. There was an adult in their lives who validated their sense of wrong.

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