Eden Halt: An Antrim Memoir

'We read, as if memory is being assembled in front of us. It is this precision, the beautifully executed detail, that makes Eden Halt a deeply moving memoir.' - Roddy Doyle Eden Halt describes a childhood spent on a remote coast of Northern Ireland, in the shadow of the Second World War. With his father absent in the African campaign, a yound Ross Skelton's constant companion is his taciturn grandfather, a UVF veteran and caretaker of the local big house. His father, Tom Skelton, returns, troubled by malaria and nightmares. An aspiring writer, with connections to Louis MacNeice in nearby Carrickfergus, and to the artist Raymond Piper, he deserts the civil service for the life of a navvy, given to sudden absences, tramping the roads and sleeping rough, as the family falls from comfort to extreme poverty. They live off fishing and beachcombing in a tiny community of wooden bungalows on the wild Antrim coast, inhabiting a 'land that God forgot'. Despite primitive surroundings, the family is highly literate, with Ross's mother an avid reader, while his father writes at night. The memoir sensitively evokes a boyhood spent in a ceaseless quest for driftwood by a sea in its restless and violent moods, escaping to the hills on his home-made bicycle and raising racing pigeons in a make-shift loft. Reconstructing a time and place long gone, its sounds, smells and echoes, Ross Skelton pieces together the fragments that constitute a life, and gave rise to his career as a psychoanalyst and writer.