I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

FOOD WRITING

Good Things

Reading the cookbook as an instance of self-expression and social display.
Cooking in ‘Full and Plenty’ is a female role, with men often presented as blundering innocents lured into domestic bliss by discreetly artful variations on established, conservative male-decreed taste. But the book also appealed to the smaller public with a more sophisticated idea of itself or its future. Ireland presents a variation on a broader European pattern: indeed there are multiple Irelands, Englands and Frances that cannot be placed within a single national timeline.

US POLITICS

‘I Gave Them a Sword’

Kevin Stevens
The Watergate affair and the cover-up that brought down Richard Nixon Nixon made enemies easily and then hated them for doing to him what he was doing to others. He couldn’t take criticism. His first instinct was to fight back, and he was always looking to get even. Though he had a sentimental side, he was a cold, humourless introvert who found it hard to get close to anyone and who nursed his grudges quietly but passionately. And he lacked confidence, especially in his sense of self. ‘Nixon must always be thinking about who he is,’ John Kennedy said in 1960. ‘That is a strain. I can be myself.’

Dublin Review of Books

Too Much, Not Enough

Desmond Traynor
A meditation on time and the pressure to use it productively

From the Home Front

Gerald Dawe
The letters of an American woman living in wartime Northern Ireland

Darts of Thought

Afric McGlinchey
An exploration of the complexities of identity and relationships

The Spin of Things

Keith Payne
Darkly optimistic poems salvaged from the suburban humdrum

A Contented Heart

Tim Murphy
Poems of love and loss articulated in a spirit of quiet affirmation

POPULAR FICTION

Hack and Hero

Frank Freeman
Leslie McFarlane: the career of a prolific and successful hack writer

ULYSSES: 100 YEARS

Vivid Faces

Daniel Mulhall
The reputation of ‘Ulysses’ in Ireland during its first century

ULYSSES: 100 YEARS

A Diplomatic Odyssey

David Blake Knox
The ‘soft power’ of promoting the literary heritage of Ireland abroad

THE WRITING LIFE

The Gift

Katrina Goldstone
Howard Jacobson on what he got from his Mancunian Jewish upbringing

LITERATURE

A Tonic for Our Times

Patricia Craig
Margaret Atwood’s astute, sparkling takes on social and literary matters

US POLITICS

‘I Gave Them a Sword’

Kevin Stevens
The Watergate affair and the cover-up that brought down Richard Nixon

FOOD WRITING

Good Things

Barra Ó Seaghdha
Reading the cookbook as an instance of self-expression and social display.

LITERATURE

A Tonic for Our Times

Margaret Atwood’s astute, sparkling takes on social and literary matters Margaret Atwood’s priorities are clear and unassailable. If she doesn’t have an unwavering feminist agenda, she is nevertheless on the side of insubordinate women, from witches and termagants to go-getters in every field. She is more an appreciator than a critic – except where criticism is called for. She is scathing on the ‘back-to-the home’ time of the 1950s, for example, with women prescribed an unsatisfactory lifestyle founded on a husband, four children, a bungalow, a washing machine and ‘Total Fulfillment through having discarded your brain’.

THE WRITING LIFE

The Gift

Howard Jacobson on what he got from his Mancunian Jewish upbringing
Howard Jacobson was forty before he succeeded in publishing a novel. He won the Booker Prize aged sixty-eight. If his Northern working class Jewish background sometimes worked against him gaining early recognition for his talent, it acted as a positive influence too as he was pulled first this way and then that by the twin inheritances he received from his mother, a shy, introspective, intelligent woman, and his ebullient, practical father, ‘a yay-saying entertainer and show-off’.

ULYSSES: 100 YEARS

A Diplomatic Odyssey

The ‘soft power’ of promoting the literary heritage of Ireland abroad
When he began his career in Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Daniel Mulhall’s first assignment was to New Delhi, and he brought a copy of ‘Ulysses’ with him. Since then, he has regarded the book as an essential part of his diplomatic baggage and has carried Joyce’s novel to postings in Vienna, Brussels, Edinburgh, Kuala Lumpur, Berlin, London – and, more recently, to Washington, where he is currently serving as Ireland’s ambassador.

ULYSSES: 100 YEARS

Vivid Faces

The reputation of ‘Ulysses’ in Ireland during its first century
The ‘Catholic Bulletin’ predictably called ‘Ulysses’ ‘a colossal muckheap’, but disapproval of the work was by no means confined to Ireland. Virginia Woolf and HG Wells were among its early critics, while the English writer Alfred Noyes considered it ‘the foulest book that has ever found its way into print’. Another anonymous English critic dismissed Joyce as a ‘perverted lunatic who has made a specialty of the literature of the latrine’.

FROM PREVIOUS ISSUES

Mean Street USA

George O’Brien
From the novel of manners to the crime novel of bad manners

The Big D

Seamus O’Mahony
Christopher Hitchens enlists science in the face of death

Tales from Bective

Jana Fischerova
Mary Lavin was not banned, but did she leave things out?

Down the Rabbit Hole

Alex Bramwell
A Russian-Irish writer in the tradition of Bulgakov

BLOG

All for Pemberley?

Jane Austen and the pursuit of an advantageous marriage
On first seeing Fitzwilliam Darcy’s estate in Derbyshire, Elizabeth Bennet is overwhelmed by the beauty of the setting and the informed taste that distinguishes the house and grounds. Having previously turned down Darcy's proposal of marriage, she now muses that ‘to be mistress of Pemberley might be something’. But what exactly would being Mrs Darcy be like? Had all the disadvantages that had seemed to adhere to that state now disappeared?

POPULAR FICTION

Hack and Hero

Leslie McFarlane: the career of a prolific and successful hack writer
Leslie McFarlane wanted to be a real writer and over the course of his career he composed many decent short stories in a Conradian mode. But he made his living as a churner-out of boys’ adventure stories, fleshing out plot summaries supplied to him by his publisher – four books a month. Quality was not essential, but McFarlane couldn’t stop trying. Nor was he too upset by the fact that his publisher made millions from his work.

Blogs et cetera

APPRECIATION

Cathal Coughlan 1960-2022

John Fleming writes: A sturdy melodic voice emanates from a man whose face and twisted body communicate some existential torture. Precise narrative lyrics work with enticing pop and charm, and then the voice explodes like a nail bomb. The singer projects bemused unease. A history of sneer and insight. Rich layers of observation piled on top of sociopolitics. Words and descriptions are crafted into cultural violence. His articulations between songs, his words and music, his sometimes brawling and sometimes subtle band-leader theatrics make their way towards twin targets of love and hate. Microdisney’s “Everybody is Dead”, a last song from a... Cathal Coughlan was a high benchmark for how to be Irish abroad. In an insecure Irish world where many raced to hide their thin facade behind the depth of cliché, he was nobly detached from the simplistic badge of national identity. While he still exuded its traits, he stayed aloof, an apparent globalist despising much about the quagmire that was the second-last decade of the twentieth century – despising Ireland, along with Britain and the US.

BLOG

Isolation Anxiety

Maurice Earls writes: In response to the invasion of Ukraine and more particularly in response to the European reaction to that invasion, people in Ireland are, after a long silence, again talking about the state’s policy of neutrality and asking if it should be changed. Some believe it should be changed. From this quarter, there have been charges of “freeloading” and, from the other side, expressions of satisfaction with an “honourable” and “positive” neutrality. There may be a Citizens Assembly on the subject. Michael D Higgins has called for a respectful debate. The polls, however, are clear. There is...
In 1944 Sean O’Faolain was worried that Ireland might find itself isolated and vulnerable if it did not respond to the altered international landscape likely to emerge at the end of the war. There are striking parallels with O’Faolain’s concerns and some of the challenges for Ireland thrown up by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.