Sweeney in Effable contains five books focused on decades of exploits and artwork perpetrated by one character, Sweeney O’Sweeney. This contemporary protagonist is based on the ancient Irish legend from Trevor Joyce’s translation, Sweeny Peregrine, with a nod to Seamus Heaney’s Sweeney Astray.
Dave Robinson's Sweeney O'Sweeney lives in the late-20th and early-21st centuries, traveling the first and third worlds while seeking remote reefs to surf. All the while, Sweeney gathers material for his poems and prose—mailing off these missives to friends back in America. This former hometown legend, an adept athlete and brawler in his younger days, was born and raised in the blue collar, coastal city of Seawell, Massachusetts. It’s a raw place filled with condemned mills, a dying fishing industry and too many shared memories to count.
First published by Loom Press in 2007, Book I—Sweeney on-the-Fringe—is included here and features Sweeney’s fellow Seawellians grumbling and opining about what has become of their native son. Is he dead, insane, merely lost, endlessly traveling, imprisoned, surfing, still writing? No one is sure, most want to know and many will loudly hazard a guess.
Robinson’s Sweeney in Effable continues the contemporary legend of Sweeney in four more books, employing varying styles and voices to deliver superb, well-paced storytelling. The author makes use of prose, interviews, Celtic folklore, poems disguised as prose, a corrupted screenplay and Japanese-style travelogues to tell the story. Sweeney in Effable propels the reader through North, Central and South America and some of the sandier corners of Europe. In these five stylistically different books—which include photos, sketches and sculptures to visually round out the tales—Sweeney invites the reader to explore his mental states, a star-crossed romance or two, his meditative practices and an undying thirst for adventure. By the end of book three, through the conclusion of book five, Sweeney O’Sweeney’s burgeoning compassion for his friends, some of the poorest people in the world, compels him to keep writing, seeking and connecting.