The title, a reference to a mythic celestial escort, doesn’t exactly roll trippingly off the tongue. But the titular u-turn of phrase is about the only thing lacking the musicality and rhythmic giddiness and lyrical grace that otherwise characterizes a book in which:
We compound, lay flat, stretch, exchange in the medium of language’s intention, within the silent space throughout, we fluctuate throughout, at once, fluidly emergent. Only we did, we heard, only we saw, we spoke. 'I am this and am this we.' 'Who are you?' '…I? Ha, am An Dantomine Eerly…'
Suggestions Seussian and Joycean prompt us to add that the language's seeming intention, the full meaning behind the enigmatic and experimental dream-vision surrealism of An Dantomine Eerly will not click in nor its alluring obscurities clear up with the knowledge that the novel is rooted in the 17th century Irish tradition of the Aisling. The old Irish poetic form, literally meaning “vision-poem,” is one in which the isle of Ireland appears in a vision to the poet, who foretells the future of the Irish people.
However, author J.R.D. Middleton is not a strict adherent to the tradition as he sails into the Celtic mystic, cherry-picking from the genre for elements of full effect and evocation. An account about the end of a poet's life and what lies beyond, the tale is a mind-strangling though always kaleidoscopic and enticing exploration of existence in which the esoteric escort, the psychopomp, An Dantomine Eerly – Bringer of Death or Ascended Master, Boatman, Angel — guides the narrator, guides the reader, in a quest to trace the fate of dying Irish-American poet Dallin and his wife Aisling.
To seek is "the best way to begin." Indeed, “This searching,” the narrator asserts in testament to the journey’s significance, “quickly became so much more than a perverse fascination with either the magical or the insane, because it was central to all that had forbid me the world and forbid the world from myself.”