Red Sails, a spirited collection of short essays, adds further critical and autobiographical material to Derek Mahon’s growing body of prose. It includes reflections on flying boats and on the artist William Scott, an American memoir, considerations of the ‘Pound Era’ and of Cyril Connolly, thoughts about advertising and the nature of contemporary society, and praise of the ‘alternative’ character of County Cork, where the author lives.
‘Most of these pieces are published here for the first time, though some sections have appeared before in other contexts. Of those previously published, ‘The Plays’ prefaced my Theatre and ‘Poetry in Translation’ my Echo’s Grove, both 2013. ‘About Time’ expands my preface to P. J. Kavanagh’s New Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2014). ‘Works and Days’ was my contribution to Peter Fallon: Poet, Publisher, Editor and Translator, ed. Richard Rankin Russell (Irish Academic Press, 2013)’ — Author’s Note, Red Sails
‘The poet Derek Mahon writes delightful prose, and in Red Sails (Gallery) he considers topics ranging from seaplanes, through Ezra Pound and Cyril Connolly, to his own days as an advertising copywriter — he was present at the birth of Pampers. A superb collection.’ — John Banville, Books of the Year The Guardian
‘This is a great little book that “springs from prevailing conditions”: Mahon in top form.’ — Gerald Dawe, Dublin Review of Books