Hat of Candles: Essays 2008-2019
Hat of Candles is a sparkling and trenchant collection of non-fiction ranging over qualities of mind that preoccupy most thinking people of our time. The political mysteries of China, Indonesia and India are featured in the Open Window section that begins the book. Portraits of writers, critics, artists and even secondary school teachers populate the marvelous range of the middle, ‘Biograph’ section. The wide range of essays on literature feature illuminations of that sullen art from numerous countries and many languages. Every page offers new discoveries, new climes whose lakes and peaks are traced with Wirick’s impeccable poetic style. The portraits of individuals—writers, murderers, Balinese cockfighters—jump out with the vividness of cinema, and there are simply no better assessments of literature than from one who sails the open sea of fiction as well as, in Updike’s phrase, hugs the shore of the actual, the historical, and the possible as well as the inevitable. The prose is mellifluous, pure as silk and yet strong as the yachtmen’s lines that draw the reader through the dark and light lands of the heart, the imagination, and the twofold cord that binds them. This is a dazzling collection, encompassing all that we care about, and much that we should.
Richard Wirick is the author of four books that have been translated
into more than ten languages. One Hundred Siberian Postcards
(2006), short memoir-fiction pieces, was a London Times Notable Book and
nominated for the PEN/Bingham Award for best first work by an American
writer. It was followed by another story collection, Kicking In
(2010). The novel The Devil’s Water was published in 2014, and
a new novel, Volta: Chapters Of The Ghost Year, is forthcoming
in 2022, as well as a third story collection. He writes for a wide variety
of periodicals in the U.S. and U.K., and is a senior voting member of
the National Book Critics Circle. Originally from the Midwest, he practices
law in Los Angeles, where he lives with his family.