As World War Two drew to an end, a number of prominent prisoners of the Germans were moved to South Tyrol in the Italian Alps. Among them were veterans of the Great Escape, two former European prime ministers and a handful of Irishmen who had served in the British army.
Ian McEwan’s novels tend to set up a clash between opposing worldviews, with the authorial thumb pressed heavily on one side of the scales. His latest, a humanist exploration of posthumanist ideas, is a hugely pleasurable read, but might the author not have tried to surprise us a little more?
Belfast’s Balmoral Cemetery was once a gloriously dishevelled and spooky playground favoured by the more adventurous among neighbourhood children. But after many complaints it was cleaned up, and it’s now as straight-lined and ‘Protestant-looking’ as anyone could wish.
A group of youngsters from Derry is interested in the same things that many youngsters elsewhere are interested in – sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll. But this is 1981, Bobby Sands is getting closer to death and to the normal trio of pleasures is added another experience, war.
Moya Roddy presents us with poetry that is straight out of the ordinary, a refreshing reminder that not every poem needs to be an epic, complicated, deep analogy of something or another; the kind that make open mics up and down the country the stuff of nightmares.
A particular feature of Rita Ann Higgins’s new collection is the use of juxtaposition: essays appear side-by-side with poems tackling their subject from a different angle. It is fascinating to see this process, with the background which informs a poem laid out in prose form.
Freud saw ‘Trauerarbeit’, literally grief work, as a work of breaking the bonds that tied the survivor to the deceased – ‘letting go’ and ‘moving on’. Current thinking however would be more open to the idea that while death may end a life, it doesn’t necessarily end a relationship.