All Down Darkness Wide: A Memoir

Penguin Pr. Jul. 2022. 224p. ISBN 9780593300084. $26. MEMOIR
This memoir, though ostensibly about a lived life, suggests something spiritual, as befits its title, taken from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem. It is also fitting because Hewitt (literature, Trinity Coll., Dublin; J.M. Synge: Nature, Politics, Modernism) is well-known as a gifted poet, as was Hopkins. He writes about casual sexual encounters but much of the core of the book is taken up with Jack and Elias. Jack was his love at Cambridge as an undergraduate. Though the relationship was brief, Jack, characteristic of first loves, was memorable for many reasons, not the least of which he was very handsome. Hewitt met Elias while travelling in South America. He moved to Sweden to be with him and stayed with Elias as he faced a long bout of depression. There is much more here including an excursion to Lourdes and its ramifications. Even more poignantly, he opens up about his vulnerability to gay shame and its triggers. What can’t be conveyed in a short review is how poetic the writing is. This book bears reading twice it is so beautiful.
VERDICT Readers seeking an elegant, profound memoir will find none better than this. Highly recommended.
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