This fascinating miscellany comprises seventy-nine short pieces on marriage practices in Ireland over approximately 1,300 years. During this period the institution of marriage was organised around property, status, succession and, in the case of the elite, politics.
The Irish in New York faced much of the same hostility from a Protestant establishment that wished to exclude them as they did at home. But eventually they came to belong, based on their service in the US army their role in maintaining law and order, their political skills, and, not least, their sheer numbers.
Data-gathering and metrics have come to rule modern medicine, with the results of the former often being sold on to the ‘medical-industrial complex’. Meanwhile real doctoring, like life, is messy and uncertain. And surely humans are about something more than their value as data and a desire to live as long as possible?
A Croatian dog writes about the loud love-making that is repeatedly heard in his apartment block at night, ‘the little acoustic scandal that has been rocking our neighbourhood’. But really he wants to talk about love and loyalty. No creature feels rejection more than a dog.
Jane Clarke has written a sequence of poems exploring the First World War, using letters and photographs drawn from the Auerbach family archive. She has produced a book of great concentration and intelligence, which captures the life of a young soldier and his sister and asks fundamental questions about empathy.
There are – at least – two sides to everything. Jan Carson’s new novel skilfully blends magic realism, absurdism and surrealism to explore the complexities of Northern Ireland’s ‘post-conflict’ society, and how this hyphenated existence holds the past and present in dangerous tension.
Ciaran Carson’s work has developed from the well-crafted poetry of his first collection to the digressive, long-lined collection The Irish For No. His explorations of liberty in The Twelfth of Never took their own liberties with temporal, conceptual and even grammatical sense.
The willingness to dream, to give herself over to a flood of memories is ultimately what distinguishes the inevitably innocent memoir of Nora O’Connor, who left Ireland in 1907, from Ian Maleney’s masterfully doubtful essays. For at the base of Maleney’s anxiety is a mistrust of memory.