I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Issue 152, Summer 2023

Issue 152, Summer 2023

Eyes Wide Open

Still Pictures: On Photography and Memory, by Janet Malcolm, Granta, 155 pp, £14.99, ISBN: 978-1783788361 Born Jana Wienerova in Prague in 1934, the elder of two girls, Janet Malcolm was just five when her family escaped from Nazism in July 1939. They had the additional good fortune to find sanctuary in the United States. As […]

Live Differently

Nothing Special, by Nicole Flattery, Bloomsbury, 230 pp, £16.99, ISBN: 978-1526612120 ‘There was nothing special about our seed,’ says the eponymous narrator, Michael, to his pregnant lover in John McGahern’s 1979 novel The Pornographer, a line echoed, unintentionally or otherwise, in the title of Nicole Flattery’s bracingly provocative debut novel, Nothing Special. Though Flattery’s restrained […]

The Chocolate Port

São Salvador da Bahia lies thirteen degrees south of the equator on the southernmost tip of a small triangular peninsula, which separates the Bay of All Saints from the Atlantic Ocean. It began as a fortress on a steep hill and became Brazil’s colonial capital, exporting dye woods, animal skins and gold to Portugal. The […]

The Moment in the Rose-Garden

The Hyacinth Girl: T.S. Eliot’s Hidden Muse, by Lyndall Gordon, Norton, 496 pp, 2023, $47, ISBN: 978-1324002802 British edition: Virago, 512 pp, £25, ISBN: 978-0349012117 From its very first sentence, this book gives a jolt to Eliot studies. The poet is a master of disguise, writes Lyndall Gordon, who has proven herself more than capable […]

Football Crazy

  Soccer and Society in Dublin: A History of Association Football in Ireland’s Capital, by Conor Curran, Four Courts Press, 352 pp, €35, ISBN: 978-180151-0394 When I was a half-Irish boy growing up in London in the 1950s and 1960s, I was football-mad. And the thing that distinguished me from my soccer-obsessed school and club […]

The Lure of Nostalgia

The Return of the State by Graeme Garrard, Yale University Press, 227 pp, £16.99, ISBN: 978-0300256758 We are almost entirely dependent on the state for our security and wellbeing. And yet it often seems to be an uncherished institution. If the Irish state is in any way representative, it has had a bad press in […]

Comrade Inconstant

The Socialist Patriot: George Orwell and War, by Peter Stansky, Stanford University Press, 136 pp, £10.99, ISBN: 9781-503635494 In this short book, pioneering Orwell biographer Peter Stansky shows how Orwell’s development as a writer was influenced by the four major wars in which he participated ‑ the two world wars, the Spanish Civil War and […]

When Everything Seemed Possible

An American journalist sympathetic to the causes of labour, the emancipation of women and Ireland’s liberation from British rule shaped her journalism into a book. Soon enough, she disappeared into the quiet obscurity of a worthy teaching life. Ruth Russell’s account of her Irish experiences, What’s the Matter with Ireland?, disappeared into obscurity too, surfacing […]

Making Us Good

                                     1 ‘How do I become a good person?’ is a boring question, because we already know the answer (be kind; don’t make other people responsible for your suffering; don’t be responsible for other people’s suffering), and because […]

Out with the New

Confessions: A Life of Failed Promises, by AN Wilson, Bloomsbury Continuum, 312 pp, £20, ISBN: 978-1472994806 Schooldays are seldom recalled as a particularly happy experience by the children of the English upper middle class. One need only think of ‘Such, Such Were the Joys’, George Orwell’s essay about his prep school, St Cyprian’s, a perhaps […]