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For All We Know by Ciaran Carson

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Shortly after a man and a woman meet for the first time in a second-hand clothes shop in Belfast, a bomb goes off. It is some time in the 1970s. They become lovers. For All We Know is their story, told in the recent past: a meditation on love, place, memory, loss and language, how people know each other, misunderstand each other, or translate each other, not to mention the events and circumstances which are beyond their control. Gesturing towards a conventional sonnet sequence – the poems consist of fourteen lines, or multiples thereof, in lines of fourteen syllables – Ciaran Carson’s novelistic book also references film noir, Cold War thriller, fairy story, and the art of the fugue. In its uncanny music, repercussions and reprises, its mysterious unfolding of what happened or what might have been in Paris and Dresden (or was it Berlin?), For All We Know is a sequence of poems like nothing you’ve ever read before.

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