Cinema Speculation, by Quentin Tarantino, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 400 pp, £25, ISBN: 978-1474624220 The best bits of Quentin Tarantino’s first book, the 2021 novelisation Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, happened when the narrative was put on hold and QT spoke right at you ‑ about cinema! ‑ in a voice unmistakeable from TV interviews and the fast-talking wise guy Mr. Brown in Reservoir Dogs. Nestled within the fiction, these passages comprised an absorbing insider’s essay on the lore and backroom machinations of a bygone Hollywood. Two years later, Tarantino has delivered an entire book made up of those bits. A... Tarantino has always been a joyous appreciator of movies, and his writing has an infectious fanaticism that is there on every page. In ‘Cinema Speculation’ we are invited into the warmth of someone else’s lifelong love affair. Granted, his enthusiasm is so instinctively anti-hierarchical that it sometimes feels as if he has no capacity for critical discernment at all, but rather than serving as a fatal mark against him, this has quite the opposite effect.
Many elements of the Lemass/Whitaker approach were to inform nationalism as it was reconceptualised in the 1980s and 1990s: the need for co-operation and partnership; a recognition that ultimately only Irish people could solve their own problems and that Britain could not be a persuader for unity but could facilitate it if circumstances changed; an openness to flexibility on symbolic issues.
Though François Fejtő throughout his long life kept his eye on central and eastern Europe, both in his largely anonymous professional work as a regional specialist for Agence France Presse and in his more pointed essays for various literary-political reviews, he fought his ideological battles in Paris, a city in which intellectuals have a certain importance, and a certain sense of their own importance.
One of the main reasons why both philosophy and literature have a much more significant relationship with their heritage than subjects like physics or maths is because their canonical texts – the works of Plato, or Descartes or Kant, or Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ or Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ ‑ are not rendered philosophically or imaginatively superfluous as a consequence of the passage of time.
Two Brothers: The life and times of Bobby and Jackie Charlton, by Jonathan Wilson, Little, Brown, 384 pp, £20, ISBN 978-1408714492 It was 1972 and the Sunday Mirror was not allowed into our house in rural Tipperary. On Saturday evening, May 20th, there was startling news in the ads on television before the Late Late Show: an overwrought English voice proclaimed that George Best would be announcing his retirement from football at the age of twenty-six in an UNMISSABLE world exclusive to be published in the Mirror the following day. What to do? My yearning to read this story was... George Best said he represented the future and Bobby Charlton the past. A subsidiary theme of ‘Two Brothers’ is the rancid antipathy between these two, which worsened as Manchester United declined from its pinnacle of 1968. It was not merely that Best carried his own toiletries; Charlton exuded modesty, prudence and respectability, the virtues a working class man of the 1950s needed to make something of himself. Best, more than eight years his junior, typified for Charlton a new generation characterised by disrespect for their elders.
FROM PREVIOUS ISSUES
The heavy rain that had been falling all day eased off a couple of hours before I was due to take the bus back to Dublin. Happy that I wouldn’t be leaving without at least taking a short walk, I headed down the winding, high-hedged road towards the river. At the point where a steep descent begins, I glanced over the wall and noticed a swirling motion in the water far below – not at all what a mallard or moorhen would produce. Staring more intently, I realised, with great excitement, that the dark shape now breaking the surface... I absorbed a heroic view of the Irish struggle, in which of course the main enemy was English. At the same time, I was working my way through a variety of English worlds. I read every William book I could lay my hands on: this England, with its vicars, cricket and fetes, was like nothing I knew and entirely unconnected with that of the history books. The Billy Bunter books, too, were a kind of fantasy: not just the boarding-school setting, but the honour code, the class background and the range of unfamiliar character types.
An Irish Folklore Treasury: A Selection of Old Stories, Ways and Wisdom from the Schools’ Collection, by John Creedon, Gill Books, 312 pp, €24.99, ISBN: 978-0717194223 The Schools’ Collection was a scheme initiated by the Irish Folklore Commission in the 1930s whereby children throughout the Irish Free State were instructed to gather lore and local traditions from older people living in their neighbourhoods. The result was a substantial collection gathered in over five thousand primary schools and amounting to approximately 740,000 pages of material. Its value has long been known to scholars, but accessibility has been increased greatly in recent... There is plentiful detail on folk medical practices, healing charms and popular religious beliefs. The idea that games used to be played at wakes is one that contemporary students find odd, even scarcely believable. But such games were once commonplace, and there is actually a scholarly book written about the phenomenon. One entry in John Creedon’s selection, collected by Betty Gillespie of Easky, Co Sligo, mentions that mock weddings would be performed at wakes: ‘One fellow acts as a priest and he would marry another boy and girl, and they would have great fun at the sermon.’