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A surrealist journey through five decades of tumultuous conflict

Memoir: Inventory

Darran Anderson

Chatto & Windus, hardback, 368 pages, €23.80

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Heart on sleeve: author Darran Anderson. Photo courtesy of Chatto & Windus

Heart on sleeve: author Darran Anderson. Photo courtesy of Chatto & Windus

Inventory by Darran Anderson

Inventory by Darran Anderson

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Heart on sleeve: author Darran Anderson. Photo courtesy of Chatto & Windus

Czesław Miłosz once observed that "when a writer is born into a family, the family is finished".

The Nobel prize-winning Polish poet was being overtly melodramatic to illustrate a pertinent point: a family narrative can never be considered off limits to the committed wordsmith seeking transcendental truth. Especially if those stories have been buried between generations to conceal unwanted feelings of shame and guilt.

This atavistic link to familial ghosts of history is something the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen called "present inheritance": when a psychological defect gets passed through the genes on to posterity. While the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung claimed connecting with "the ancestral soul" was paramount for achieving harmonious spiritual contentment.