Austin Clarke, who started his writing career during the Celtic twilight years and adapted some Irish language poetic forms and themes, has suffered from falling on the wrong side of the nationalist/modernist divide, a contrast partially built on critical essays by Beckett.
A necessary literary device to throw characters together in unfamiliar settings, communal family/friend away-events feature a lot in genre and popular fiction. If fiction teaches us anything it is that we should steer well clear of attempting anything similar in real life.
Seamus Heaney’s Virgil translation was one of a number of posthumous publications, but now it seems there is no more to come. As Auden wrote in memory of Yeats, the poet has become his admirers. And of course there are the poems, on offer here in a new selection by Heaney’s family.
For Michael, the engineer protagonist of Adrian Duncan’s new novel, lovers’ entwined arms are a reminder of the connections of girders on a suspension bridge. For readers sated with sensitive literary heroes, Duncan analytical and oblique approach to relationships could come as a relief.
Laura wants to be a big-time sharp-talking actress like those in the ’40s films noirs she watched with her father. She has loads of parts in her: ‘easy-to-see parts and long forgotten parts and parts I encounter in my problematic dreams. I have shadow parts. They do not wish me well.’
There are things you ‘know for a fact’ but perhaps cannot prove. Sometimes the frustration of such situations can drive a journalist to turn to fiction, as Frank Connolly has done with a compelling story set against the background of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974.
When James Joyce chose exile he opted not for England, where the Irish writer was an entertainer, but Paris, the epicentre of a ‘Europe’ that was utterly different from the Anglo-Irish world in which he had grown up, a world full of possibilities, openness and experiment.