Saturday 31 May 2014

My Bookshelves on Another Person's Blog

My Bookshelves on Another Person's Blog

Over at Savidge Reads there is a regular series called Other People's Bookshelves. I am "Other Person Number 43" if you feel inclined to have a peek at my shelves.

Monday 26 May 2014

Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall  - Hilary Mantel

I read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies together and it adds up to a long novel but it never felt like an effort. When I was a teenager I loved historical fiction and read quite a bit, most of which has been wiped clear from my brain, as has most of my knowledge of English history. Most of what was taught in Ireland back in my day focussed on the injustices perpetuated by the English on Ireland any way. Therefore we got more Oliver than Thomas Cromwell.

I mean I knew that heads would roll and monks faced eviction but not a whole lot else. Some other bits sounded familiar as I progressed but not awfully so. So I wasn't too worried about the absolute historical accuracy of this portrait of Thomas Cromwell, but instead focussed on how convincing a fictional character he was and the quality of the writing. I was not disappointed with either.

Friday 16 May 2014

Young Skins

Young Skins - Colin Barrett

With the release of Young Skins Colin Barrett seems to have attracted the 'new Kevin Barry' tag. It's never easy having to wear someone else clothes and Kevin Barry probably thinks it's a bit early for a new him as well. Barrett has gracefully acknowledged Barry's influence and Barry has anthologised Barrett so the town seems big enough for both of them.
I find it difficult at times to write about short stories. I tend to read collections over a long period and indeed, I have many that I have dipped into on numerous occasions without finishing and often return to favourite stories again and again. Plans to cover my short story reading have yet to come to fruition. One of the problems is that it can be very easy to give away too much about a story, it's not like a novel where you can tell a lot without really giving anything away.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Flann O'Brien Documentary

Flann O'Brien Documentary
"a real writer, with the true comic spirit" - James Joyce

Here is a treat, a documentary on the wonderful Irish writer Flann O'Brien a.k.a. Brian O'Nolan, writer of two of the greatest Irish novels: At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman. He also produced one of the greatest satirical newspaper columns ever - An Cruiskeen Lawn.

In some ways he is the Irish Orson Welles, starting off with such great masterpieces that everything else is seen by some as a disappointment. And there is no doubt that he descended from those heights and suffered from frustration and alcoholism.

Thanks to Mick Mahon, who edited this documentary, for sharing.

Tuesday 6 May 2014

A Scots Quair

A Scots Quair - Lewis Grassic Gibbon
(Sunset Song; Cloud Howe; Grey Granite)

This trilogy reminded me strongly of Thomas Hardy with it's powerful sense of the lives of the rural poor and the vagaries of fate. The books were written in the early 1930's in a poetic Scottish dialect and the action covers the years before, during and after the First World War. I became aware of them through the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. Although popular in Scotland they had not previously attracted my attention. I'm glad they did. Indeed they are likely to meet with a surge in popularity as the great Terence Davies has just begun filming Sunset Song. The mix of tenderness and brutality he brought to the screen in Distant Voices, Still Lives would appear to be on the cards for a reprise.