Monday 30 December 2013

Poems (not even a) Penyeach

Poems (not even a) Penyeach

An easy way to keep the blog ticking over as I struggle to finish any further reviews? Here's more of my verse.

This one is from a year ago and I had forgotten it completely.  I always tend to like pieces I've completely forgotten when I first find them again.

I rise in my cloak
of ache and my mist
of drowsiness
and mumble through
the stumble step time
washing last nights supper dishes
scraping scraps for the dogs
into a plastic box
cloudy like the winter sky
until the warmth of tea
melts my early mood
and I rise again
to a serenade in marmalade
and the sun
like a yolk haloed in albumen
spills like life
through the window
and stirs my blood

Thursday 19 December 2013

The (Grey) Blades

The (Grey) Blades

On Friday the 13th, last Friday, I attended a gig.  I hadn't seen the band in question play a gig since 1986, indeed no-one had. I hadn't been as excited about a gig for many years. At the time they were 'current' I saw them a few times, once in a small room in O'Sheas hotel in Bray and finally in the fading splendour of The Olympic Ballroom in Dublin, playing their last ever gig. I often wished I had taken more opportunities to see them - some things get taken for granted. No danger of that now. The band were The Blades, and when I wrote THIS earlier in the year I had little idea or hope of ever seeing them play again, let alone with such passion and power and to such an ecstatic reception.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Day of the Ram

Day of the Ram - William Campbell Gault

They say that you should never judge a book by its cover but this one jumped off the shelf. The design seemed somewhere between seventies independent film and classic Penguin, nods I guess to the book's fifties genesis and the reissue date in the seventies.

It seemed likely to give what it says on the can, a slice of pure genre P.I. crime. And it did. This one was short and, if not sweet, muscular and direct, both in terms of the writing and the  main character.

Monday 9 December 2013

The Reivers

The Reivers - William Faulkner

"..Fortune is a fickle jade, who never withholds but gives, either good or bad: more of the former than you ever believe (perhaps with justice) that you deserve; more of the latter than you can handle."

A couple of years back I was thinking about authors that I hadn't read and the two names that were top of my list were Proust and Faulkner. Last year I filled the Proust sized gap and finally I have started on Faulkner.

I was, I guess primed for difficulty and was highly surprised to find myself in a romp with strong echoes of Mark Twain. This was Faulkner's last book, published a mere month before his death and it is told from the point of view of an old man. However, it is not a lament for life passed but a coming of age tale about how his eleven year old self gets caught up in a madcap adventure involving a 'borrowed' car, a stolen racehorse and sardines. And much else besides.

Monday 2 December 2013

Brother of Sleep

Brother of Sleep - Robert Schneider
(Translated by  Shaun Whiteside)

"Come, O death, O come, sleep's brother,
Lead me where thou dost decree"

This is a brutal, poetic, fable, set in Eschberg, an Austrian mountain village. It is set in the  early nineteenth century and the dust of the dark ages hasn't been fully shaken off.  In the isolated community inbreeding has exacerbated certain tendencies and idiot children, psychopaths and one towering, mysterious case of musical genius dominate the book.

I felt elements of American Southern Gothic in these truncated, inward looking lives filled with violence and strangeness but the most telling reference point would be the fairy tales collected by The Brothers Grimm. The writing style is that of a fireside storyteller, with the fire rising on occasion to consume the village Eschberg in flames that may constitute a judgement from God.