Fearing the Forest
Max Porter’s follow up to ‘Grief is the Thing with Feathers’ explores the physicality of language, earthiness, the smell of ink and metal in print. The layout of the text is highly experimental: words drip, curl and crawl off the page, reminding us of their tangibility.
Through the Tarmac
In Deborah Levy’s new novel we are left with a sense of boundless complexity, the intertwining of present, future and past, of memory, dream and wish, hurt and desire, presence and absence, love and hate, and everything that slides between such simplifying distinctions.
Waltzes and Quicksteps
Gerald Dawe has managed throughout his writing life to evade contamination with the sectarian and ideological toxins that pervade his native Northern ground. In his person and in his work he is the consummate united Irishman, equally at home in Galway, Dublin and Belfast.
Questions of Balance
It is the balancing act of drawing transitory subjects from the experiences of a life, presenting them with a deftness and lightness of touch that still delivers a weight of implication, while shunning overt claims to attention, that is so captivating and enabling in Enda Wyley’s new collection.
A Fog from Reykjavik
A participant-observer study of the making of The Fall’s 1982 album ‘Hex Enduction Hour’, recorded in Iceland and at a cinema in Hertfordshire, drips decency and likability. It could be profitably patented as a pragmatic template for art memoirs or biographies.
Bram Stoker is standing at his window, peering out anxiously at a figure below. The young Oscar Wilde wishes to whisk him away on a healthy, liberating seaside constitutional – but Stoker will have none of it: it wouldn’t do to be seen in the company of such a one, not in gossiping Dublin.
Rí-rá agus rumpy-pumpy
Free of Victorian respectability, Gaeltacht Irish did not develop separate registers of acceptable and ‘dirty’ words. The fact that Mairtín Ó Cadhain wrote about sex scandalised those for whom the Gaeltacht was more holy ground than a place where people actually lived.
Cervantes’s ‘Don Quixote’ was about a man who steps out of the matrix. Tilting at windmills, on a quest for a princess, he appears crazy ‑ and he forces us to consider that maybe we are crazy. This is why over four centuries he has remained an indispensable hero.
Robert Macfarlane’s latest exploration of the natural world leaves one with the impression of the world as a hollowed-out vessel, infinitely fragile and perilously finite, a honeycomb packed with toxic waste which will ultimately disintegrate like an aged wasps’ nest.
An Englishman’s Arthur
The writer of Arthurian fantasy TH White sat out the Second World War as a conscientious objector in Co Meath. This long sojourn doesn’t appear to have given him any great love of the Irish people, whom he seems to have blamed for spurning the benefits of British civilisation.