Edmund Lea perpetually rides a ghost train -- except every seven years on Christmas Eve, when he is allowed to revisit his home town.
Like Wagner's Flying Dutchman, Edmund is condemned to eternity alone until he determines how to lift the curse upon him. Time passes, from 1970 to 2019, but Edmund remains seventeen, unable to age and watching the world grow older. He tries in vain to break the spell by way of true love, repentance, hedonism; he tries to change the world and he tries to die. Characters move in and out of Maxwell's story like Dante's figures in Hell, but Edmund's own Virgil is a careless and unhelpful poet, a portrait of the author as a student. The tale is told in formal terza rima, but its language and tone, its humor and sense of homesickness, are decidedly contemporary. It is a brilliant achievement.
"Glyn Maxwell has learned to do what all good poets do -- he makes a world fresh again, a world you never knew existed." --William Logan, NEW CRITERION
Maxwell has the dramatist’s skill to set his characters in motion and orchestrate them . . . and the poet’s knack for rhythmical pathos.”
Beautiful and moving and authentic poetry can be written today; and we know this not least because Glyn Maxwell is writing it."