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.

BOOK REVIEWING

Where Art Happens

Novelist and critic: the book review as potential art form in itself
In the thirteen years between his first and second novels, Kevin Power wrote some 350 book reviews, many short, sharp and sparkling, others long and thoughtful, all more focused on seeking engagement with writers than in staking out an ideological position. In what he has called ‘an age of proliferating antihumanist radicalisms’, Power follows the example of Clive James, ‘urban and urbane, scorning the ivory tower for the café and the pub’.

TELEVISION

From Trendy to Ted

Reflections on the TV career of comic actor Dermot Morgan There is an irony in someone so deeply anti-clerical being most remembered for two roles as a priest, one of them naive and eager to please, the other somewhat bruised and resentful of his treatment by his superiors. The two also had some qualities in common: a basic decency and vulnerability and a degree of tolerance for the failings they find in themselves and in others. Such tolerance was not an outstanding feature of the Catholic church in Ireland during the decades in which Dermot Morgan grew up.

Dublin Review of Books

europe

Doing the Continental

Enda O’Doherty
The European dream of perpetual peace

THE UNITED IRISHMEN

Following Henry Joy

Ultán Gillen
The life and death of a martyr for revolutionary secular republicanism

Poetic Bears and Others

Thomas McCarthy
An anthology marked by warmth, bigness of heart and generosity of spirit

A Stay of Time

Donal Moloney
A tale of quest full of gritty realism, related in Sara Baume’s electric prose

Life in the Ghost Dog

Tim Murphy
A collection in which many poems are akin to well-worked short stories

Huguenot Voices

Martin Greene
Diaries and memoirs of French Protestant refugees in Ireland

England and St George

Maurice Walsh
The Brexit sensibility: between nostalgia and nationalism

Diversifying the Horizon

Caroline Hurley
Complementing science with tribal strategies for human survival

Against the Grain

Deirdre Hines
Poems marked by fierce imagination and enlivened by puckish wit

High Bred Yet Hybrid

Rosemary Jenkinson
A novelistic recreation of the life of the co-author of ‘The Irish RM’

THE GOOD LIFE

The Opposite of Hatred

Paul O’Mahoney
The afterlife of Christianity after the disappearance of religious belief

SEXUAL VIOLENCE

The Blind I

Lia Mills
Avoiding speaking of the violence that is going on around us

IRISH UNITY

Together Again?

Gerald Dawe
A Northern novelist probes the reality behind the Border poll scenario

TELEVISION

From Trendy to Ted

David Blake Knox
Reflections on the TV career of comic actor Dermot Morgan

BOOK REVIEWING

Where Art Happens

Tom Hennigan
Novelist and critic: the book review as potential art form in itself

IRISH UNITY

Together Again?

Gerald Dawe
A Northern novelist probes the reality behind the Border poll scenario 'The Last Irish Question’ is a must-read for all those citizens, north, south, east and west, who have a real interest in how the country will be shaped politically in the decades ahead. By turns quizzical and questioning but thoroughly clear-eyed, Glenn Patterson’s book brings a refreshingly sceptical tone to the bravado and determinism of much internal Irish discourse on issues surrounding the Irish border, post-Brexit planning and ‘reunification’ – the quotation marks signify historical doubts on the idea of ‘re’.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE

The Blind I

Avoiding speaking of the violence that is going on around us
It’s not always malice or misogyny that blind us to the nature and effects of sexual abuse and rape, but a kind of disconnect, a failure of imagination. It’s almost as if fear – even a fear of trespassing on another person’s pain – makes us avert our eye so that we don’t fully grasp the nature of the experience. Like many other aspects of human life, sexual and gender-based violence exist on a continuum we all inhabit.

THE GOOD LIFE

The Opposite of Hatred

The afterlife of Christianity after the disappearance of religious belief
Activism is a common cover for mediocrity. If today the artist or college professor whose output and posture is almost wholly politicised is ten-a-penny, this is because it is much easier to speak out politically than to put in the arduous work required to master an art or a discipline. By politicising one’s stance one marshals in one’s favour a sort of moral blackmail, pressurising others to take oneself and one’s work seriously.

europe

Doing the Continental

The European dream of perpetual peace
For Immanuel Kant, the dream of perpetual peace was a legitimate one, even if it was still a long way off. It could not be achieved within the existing political and legal order but only when monarchies had been replaced by representative republics. The establishment of an international order of justice might be ‘a dream of perfection’, but should not be abandoned ‘under the very wretched and harmful pretext of its impracticability’.

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

The New Centre

Enda O’Doherty writes: “The political centre cannot hold,” wrote Fintan O’Toole in the opening sentence of his Irish Times column of April 16th. “If this was not already obvious, last Sunday’s elections in France have surely made it so.” How, one might ask, does that confident statement stand up after the second round of those elections, in which the political centre, in the shape of Emmanuel Macron, held the presidency, defeating its far-right opponent by a very comfortable seventeen-point margin? In the interest of fairness let us move quickly to Fintan’s third sentence: “Even if Emmanuel Macron, who is certainly a centrist, is re-elected in the second round, it will be less because of what he is than what he is not: a crypto-fascist.” Leaving aside the implication – more political insult than demonstrable truth ‑ that Marine Le Pen is a “crypto-fascist”, we have here a statement with which it is certainly hard to disagree: many of those who came out to vote for Macron in the second round last Sunday (April 24th) did so with some reluctance but felt it was their duty to block the path to the presidency of Le Pen. But while it is legitimate to draw attention to this reluctance, doing so has actually very limited explanatory value in the absence of any consideration of constitutional and historical context. Unlike most of the countries whose electoral processes we are vaguely familiar with, France does not have an election day but election days. To decide...
The virtual eclipse of the parties of the centre right and centre left in France has been attributed to the growth of extreme formations on both sides of the political spectrum. But a clearer reason for the problems of the traditional parties is surely the emergence, and now the proven staying power, of a strong ‘new centre’ under Emmanuel Macron, who has just been given a further five-year mandate, making him the first sitting president to be re-elected since 2002.

THE UNITED IRISHMEN

Following Henry Joy

The life and death of a martyr for revolutionary secular republicanism
One of the major strengths of this superb biography is its success in rooting its subject in the history and culture of the town in which he lived and died and where his memory is still called upon today. Smyth brings both the era and the man to life with his characteristic eye for telling detail and revealing anecdote, and does so with the clarity of prose and sense of humour that readers familiar with his body of work have come to expect.

Blogs et cetera

BLOG

Defending History

  Maurice Earls writes: A story entitled “Three Glimpses of Life”, written by Patrick Kavanagh in preparation for his landmark novel Tarry Flynn, is a good place to start for anyone wanting to understand the culture that took root over much of Ireland in the century following the Famine. The story, set in the 1930s, was published in The Bell in 1944. The novel Tarry Flynn was published in 1948 and promptly banned on grounds of indecency. Some millennials and others in the lately arrived Z cohort might wonder why anyone would feel a need “to understand the culture that took... Some millennials and others in the lately arrived Z cohort might wonder why anyone would feel a need to understand the Irish past ‑ a place of grim sexual repression and Stygian darkness surely? Isn’t all that behind us now? But this would be to embrace a local version of the-end-of-history theory, which is not likely to prove any less delusional here than it has done internationally. Irish social liberalism was not downloaded from the internet in the late 1990s: it has its roots in the past just as much as Irish illiberalism has.

APPRECIATION

David McKechnie 1976-2022

Enda O’Doherty writes: Back in the 1990s I went on a short “study trip” to Germany as part of a small group of journalists, drawn chiefly from the newly democratised countries of central and eastern Europe. There were Poles, Lithuanians, Romanians, Czechs, Slovaks, Bulgarians, a Hungarian, a Georgian and – to make up the numbers – a Greek woman and an Irishman. We visited newspaper offices in Frankfurt and Berlin, television and radio stations in Mainz and Hannover, and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Our official guides – a different one for each city we visited – were professional and...
Certainly people loved Dave because he made them laugh, but they didn’t love him just because he made them laugh. They also loved his imagination, which was closely allied to his crackling humour. They loved his gentleness and humanity, his natural kindness and concern for others. Add to that his huge gifts as a journalist and you have a man who will be missed but whose short life will be vividly remembered.