This book has been in the works for several years and I have accumulated many debts of gratitude during that time. Firstly, to Ciaran Carson, whose writing is the subject of this book, and who has been generous in correspondence but also tactfully left me to my own devices – which is exactly as it should be. My colleagues at Trinity College Carmarthen and the University of Nottingham have been immensely supportive and encouraging throughout the process. I want especially to thank Sarah Davison, Menna Elfyn, Matt Green, Brean Hammond, Dominic Head, David James, Sean Matthews, Lynda Pratt, Mark Robson, Jeni Williams, and Paul Wright. I have also learned much from the students I have been fortunate to teach at both institutions. I am particularly grateful to Conor Carville, John Goodby, Eamonn Hughes, Elmer Kennedy-Andrews, Jim Moran, Julie Sanders, Laura Wainwright, and Danny Weston who each read and commented upon draft material at various stages of the writing process. The book has benefited considerably from their insights and knowledge, though I am, of course, responsible for any errors of conception or execution that remain. For stimulating conversations on Carson's work and other topics I also wish to thank Shane Alcobia-Murphy, Sarah Brouillette, Alice Entwistle, Colin Graham, Anne Jamison, Richard Kirkland, Sinéad Sturgeon, and Conor Wyer. At Liverpool University Press, Anthony Cond's consistent enthusiasm for the project has been much appreciated, and I am indebted to Helen Tookey for her diligence in seeing it through to publication. My brother, Gareth, has cheered me on from the sidelines, as have the Phillips and Davies families in Wales. My greatest debts are to my parents, Colin and Barbara, for giving me so many opportunities and ensuring that I used them; and to my wife, Tina, whose love, support, and companionship has made everything possible.
Earlier versions of Chapters 2 and 3 have appeared respectively as: ‘Mapping Junkspace: Ciaran Carson's Urban Cartographies’, Textual Practice 21.3 (2007), pp. 505–32; and ‘Deviations from the Known Route: (p.viii) Writing and Walking in Ciaran Carson's Belfast’, Irish Studies Review 16.1 (2008), pp. 41–54. The receipt of a British Academy Small Research Grant allowed me to make an important visit in July 2009 to the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Library (MARBL) at Emory University to consult their collection of Carson's papers. For permission to quote from Carson's published work I am grateful to: the author; The Gallery Press; Wake Forest University Press; Random House Group; Granta Books; and Penguin Books. I also thank MARBL for allowing me to quote unpublished material from the Ciaran Carson papers.