Cyril Kelly, celebrated writer and essayist, and long-time contributor to RTÉ Radio One's much loved Sunday Miscellany show, has written a review of Under the Bed: Thoughts & Stories from a Desert Island, by Robert Pierse.
Under the Bed is a book I have been very happily working on this past year. You could call it a memoir, but you could just as easily call it travelogue, philosophical reflection, or adventure. More than anything, it is an original, authentic and challenging book, that is impossible to categorise. However, don't take my word for it. Below is Cyril Kelly's eloquent and heartfelt review:
Under The Bed ... Hold the back page!!!
Marooned on a tiny atoll in the Gulf of Mexico, Robert Pierse, raconteur nonpareil, began nightly sessions of storytelling to distract and entertain himself, his wife Olive, and their travelling companions. Huddled for over a week in the eye of the storm, they were strafed by lightning strobes and bombarded by thunder as their timber cabin swayed on rickety stilts. Encouraged by his travelling companions and importuned by his wife, whom, he claims, he always obeys, Robert began to jot down the torrent of tales and anecdotes on whatever paper was available; sometimes, spaces on his cherished law tomes; other times, on the local sturdy toilet paper.
How lucky we are that the man was prevailed upon to keep a record of what he himself sometimes acknowledges as my ramblings. Here we have Robert Pierse with his formidable intellect, his grámhar heart, his inveterate roguish sense of fun. The dramatis personae who make an appearance Under The Bed are many and varied. For a start there are Robert’s parents, his six siblings, his ten offspring with (depending on what stage of the book you consult) grandchildren numbering between twenty seven and thirty two. In the midst of all these there is Thomas Aquinqas struggling to be heard with his apriori arguments for the existence of God. John B. Keane and Bryan McMahon make guest appearances. As does Berkie B, the famous greyhound whom Robert’s father, Dick, sold for a thousand quid and, finding a family insurrection on his hand, quickly introduced Toby, the collie, who could go to the newsagents and not alone fetch but also read the paper.
The mandarins of the EU undergo an intense interrogation Under The Bed and there is a constant battle between good and evil; good as exemplified by the min with the caps, country yokels who can be encountered in any small rural town, and evil, exemplified by homo urbanus, city slickers who sometimes make incursions to torture these rustic stereotypes. Court cases and the horse trading that accompanies them are frequent uproarious interludes in the book.
Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living. Well, in Under The Bed we have a life that has been well and truly examined and has shown itself to have been more than well worth living. This is Robert’s love letter to Olive, his tender tribute to his parents, his acknowledgement of the utmost importance of family - siblings, children and grandchildren. It is a book that I have found myself quoting frequently, rejoicing in its joie de vivre, its warmth and, at all times, its resolute commitment to a principled viewpoint.
Under the Bed: Stories & Thoughts from a Desert Island will be launched on Friday, 24th May, in the Listowel Arms Hotel, Listowel, Kerry. The launch is in association with Listowel Writers' Week. As well as being a celebration of a fantastic book, it will a night of music, memory and story. All are welcome and refreshments served.