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King of a Rainy Country

by Matthew Sweeney

Matthew Sweeney wrote this set of 50 prose poems in response to Baudelaire's posthumously published collection of prose poems (or petits poèmes en prose, as he called them). Modelling his pieces as closely as possible on Baudelaire's, Sweeney has produced a sequence that is wide-ranging in both subject and mood — there are stories, parables, meditations, diatribes that are, by turns, quirky, reflective, ascerbic and funny — the overall effect of which is an evocative autobiographical snapshot of his life in Paris. This unusual and unexpected collection from Matthew Sweeney is a significant addition to his already outstanding body of work.

Matthew Sweeney's King of a Rainy Country finds its genetic triggers in Baudelaire's Le Spleen de Paris. But the lifeblood comes from Sweeney's own explorations around the city where pleasure, novelty and violence collide to offer, in Balzac's phrase, 'gastronomy for the eye'. Replete with food, along with wine, jazz, animals, misfits and ghosts, these poèmes en prose are full of drollery and invention, and not a little devilment (indeed the Devil turns up memorably).

Written in the months following the terrorist attacks of November 2015, the book not only portrays today's Paris, it makes for a wry self- portrait whereby the props and obsessions of Sweeney's poems consort companionably in prose's more temperate medium. King of a Rainy Country, with its faceted crystal-sharp narratives, is destined to join those classics inspired by the dangerous allure of the great city.

Maurice Riordan

Paperback 9781911469520
Hardback 9781911469537
Published October 2018

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