novel, 160 pages, offset, smyth-sewn
ISBN 0-930901-81-9, paper $14
ISBN 0-930901-82-7, paper, signed, $20
novel, Ancestors Maybe, is a comic fantasy about the Pagano-
Christian tradition as it is experienced in central Connecticut. Three
sisters, all named
Marie, and their companion Hugo, probably a dwarf, entertain dead
family members in
a burlesque of family saga, Irish-American tall tale, and the post-Joycean
form is largely catechism. The questions pondered by the characters
range from: "Is
the spiritual life at all possible in CT?" to "What's for
dinner?" An octogenarian buys a
motorcycle, computer crime is committed, St. Brendan discovers America,
future disappearance of almost everybody is finally explained.
MacKiernan was born in Boston in 1941. She has worked as a researcher
psycholinguistics, librarian, computer programmer, systems analyst,
and is now doing graduate work in Islamic Studies. She lives in Connecticut,
married and the mother of two adults.
This is MacKlernan's first novel. She has completed a second.
"The author of this marvelous little Christmas tale, is a kind
Yankee version of a magic realist, stylishly anarchical in the James
with wonderful pace and a gift for wry oblique humor. A great read."
"What if Ronald Firbank, Flann O'Brien, and Richard Brautigan
forced to seek employment with one of Hartford, Connecticut's large
companies? Ancestor's Maybe might have resulted from such a
--Dennis Barone, Review of Contemporary Fiction
"MacKiernan's skill is her ability to maintain
an atmosphere allowing for the real, the
magic, and the downright silly to roll along dauntlessly. Everything
depends on fast-
paced witticisms spiced with references to Pagano-Christian tradition,
Shamanism etc. [The book] has a hilarious close."
--Arnold Falleder, Small Press
"MacKiernan's burlesque of an Irish-American family saga
progresses from holiday to
holiday, each celebrated in a seriocomic, Pagano-Christian tradition,
With the innocence
and charm of Saint-Exupery, the most flagrant violations of logic
are stated calmly and
matter-of-factly.... MacKiernan puts an Irish spin on magical realism
which redeems this
dysfunctional family from the banal and transports them to the realm
of the fantastic. In
a quest for the sacred in America, catechistic questions are endlessly
asked, but rarely
answered. Beneath the whimsical wit is the wisdom."
--Elaine Dunphy, Multicultural Review
"Robert Coover's cover blurb says "...this marvelous little Christmas
tale..." I pull back at
the diminutive. This marvelous little Christmas tale, this holiday
fable is a very serious
novel. It works through and with ideas like reference, then moves
into the whole problem
of how meaning is constructed, how Signification works. Or, how Signification
makes serious fun."
--Zed Ander, "Really Fictional Fiction," Iowa Review