Le tiers temps, by Maylis Besserie, Gallimard, 184 pp, €18, ISBN: 978-2072878398 On May 11th, the week that bookshops opened in France after the first lockdown, there was an item on the evening radio news: the Goncourt prize for a first novel was awarded to Le tiers temps, a story about Samuel Beckett’s last months in […]
One of the consistent pleasures of Don DeLillo’s fiction is the sense of its author’s being attuned to frequencies of catastrophe that hum beneath the roar of the everyday: the toxic cloud on the horizon, the gunman in a lonely room, the ominous twitch in distant currency markets.
Two men, ensconced on barstools – talking. The pub is a man’s world: ‘Dark wood, old mirrors, smoke-drenched walls and ceilings. And photographs of men. Jockeys, footballers, men drinking, writers ‑ all men ‑ rebels, boxers. The women were guests. The men were at home.’
The extent to which poets play on language varies enormously, but in Geraldine Clarkson’s debut, in which it might be said she uses wit as a palate cleanser, the reader is in for a feast of juxtaposition, unusual metaphor and conceit, highly charged lines and double entendres.
A new study provides a view of Seamus Heaney as a poet who broke through to the hearts and minds of the general reader, precisely because his poetic instincts were formed by the full resources and range of the English language, both historical and present-day, demotic and biblical.
The ‘After Dennis O’Driscoll’ section of Julie O’Callaghan’s new collection is another example of her genius with brevity. That one word, ‘After’, not only gives all due respect to the importance of her late husband’s work but also sets out the strange new ‘after’ life in which she finds herself.
Chris Agee has written extensively on the essayist Hubert Butler and is editor, with his son Jacob, of Butler’s Balkan Essays. The Agees, father and son, are uniquely qualified to elucidate the intimacies of hospitality and of hatred that characterise both the Balkans and Northern Ireland.
Kevin Barry’s characters speak in ways we don’t often encounter in contemporary Irish literature. In fact, much of his vitality comes from the results he gets from steeping today’s hybridised English in the darker hues of the Hiberno-English of the rural Ireland of the past.
In the story ‘Ichthyanthrope’ a defendant in a murder trial urges his counsel to present an explanation for his wife’s death that defies conventional reason, arguing that it matters less if that defence is true than that it should be original and delivered to the jury with complete conviction.
Caitríona Ní Chléirchín is adept in using mythology to engage with deep feelings. Her poems can be appreciated without knowledge of their literary pedigree, but for anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with the Irish literary and song tradition there is added enjoyment.