A Very Strange Man
This is a love story, set in the Irish literary world between 1986 and 2015. When they were first introduced by the poet Derek Mahon, Alannah Hopkin was an arts journalist turned full-time writer and Aidan Higgins, twenty-three years her senior, was a literary stylist, often cited as the heir to Ireland’s great Modernist tradition. They wrote steadily during their twenty-nine years together, but their careers could not have been more different: while Aidan focused on fiction and memoirs, Alannah prioritised work that paid the bills. This gave Aidan the most stable and productive years of his life. But as his eyesight failed and his memory began to fade, Alannah became his carer and had to fight to keep her own writing career alive.
Drawing from diaries and notebooks, and correspondence with writers such as Samuel Beckett, Alice Munro and Harold Pinter, this is a unique record of a major Irish writer. From the joyful honeymoon years – filled with launches, festivals and visits to their Kinsale home by Richard Ford, Edna O’Brien and other literary legends – to the increasingly difficult years of Aidan’s decline, Hopkin tells their story candidly and without commentary. She shows us how, in spite of all, they remained the best of friends, in love until Aidan’s very last breath.
A Very Strange Man is an exceptional piece of writing, objective and authoritative, personal, honest and moving.