The tagline on the back of the book, tells us exactly what On Being Welsh is:
“… an award-winning pseudo autobiography masquerading as a memoir.”
I received Mr. Moore’s novel as a gift. Knowing Moore’s expressive way with words, I was anxious to read the story. While classified as fiction, poetry written in prose, I expect there are elements of reality, sprinkled cleverly into the story, by the author
Roger Moore is a career academic, Professor Emeritus, a multiple invitee to the honoured retreat of KIRA in St. Andrews, NB and this is where the story begins. Mr Moore tells us through the narrator of the story, “He rejects the stories and myths of other people and indigenous races, only to discover that he must be the subject of his own tale.”
He draws a parallel between the mythical Magic Rock of Passamaquoddy Bay and the burial mounds of Tara of ancient Ireland. It provokes memories. It is within these memories, the story unfolds.
“Oh, the ancient mysteries of those precious possessions, our memories, slowly going missing in the mist”
Memories of a childhood begin in Swansea – “… a mixture of seaside and sand.” The memories are of Being Welsh, of growing up Welsh, the cruel treatment by the English that tried to squelch the language of his ancestors, told in Moore’s poetic and descriptive prose. The memories are not all pleasant, some quite disturbing. There is abuse, first from a father, then authoritarian figures in boarding schools, a boy hidden in a bed of flowers, studying the sky, trying to forget his unfortunate circumstances.
As the acknowledgements tells us, the story is of a boy self-distancing from the world, self-harm and attempted suicide, and then of self-discovery, understanding and self-forgiveness, as seen through the eyes of old age and wisdom.
To explain better the magic of Moore’s writing, I would like to quote author Donna Morrisey’s who judged and chose Moore’s story for the winning submission.
“The writer’s prose is eloquent, lyrical and beautiful.”
One of my favorite passages takes place when we discover the character’s mother has passed away.
“… and my heart is lost and it crashes against the black rocks by the sea where I take her ashes and cast them, as she requested, to the wind and the waves, but the wind returns them and scatters them over me, and I taste them like dry biscuits in my mouth and I grind them between my teeth, and it’s one last kiss that I neither want nor understand, as something rattles at the bottom of the urn, and a ray of sunlight turns into a rainbow, and it settles on the urn, and there, at the bottom, rattling, is a tiny golden key, her wedding ring, melted in the flames and now returned miraculously in the form of this golden key, which glistens at this rainbow’s foot in this otherwise empty urn…”
This novel is a delightful, magical tour of one man’s life expressed through memories, good and bad. Told only in the way Roger Moore can accomplish.
To know more about Roger Moore, Allan Hudson has interviewed him here at the South Branch Scribbler.
- Publisher : Cyberwit.net (March 18 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 153 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9388319842
- ISBN-13 : 978-9388319843
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