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.

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Brief Lives

Lafcadio Hearn’s encounter with transience and crossing borders

Blending In

Israel’s ‘first family’ reimagined in a hilariously conceived campus comedy

On the High Wire

John Berryman: a university poet in a society not much interested in poetry

The Light Fantastick

Dickens: master of imagination and verbal fancy footwork

This Is Not About Me

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 […]

The Impossibility of Memory

When Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, the great oral epic of Western culture, was written down, something changed forever. There is a sense in which ‘Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire’, a lament first uttered in 1773, marks the last ripple outward from that momentous event.

The Case of the Vanishing Phantom

The supernatural tale thrived for over 100 years from about 1830, but now seems to exist only as pastiche. In the Internet age, no voice need be silent or stifled any more, even if no one is listening. The ghost story, let’s face it, is not sleeping but dead. And probably best left that way.

The Screen Went Blank

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.

Pushing against the Corset

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.

Seigneur Moments

Martin Amis’s work can be understood as a series of riffs on the base elements of male friendship: rivalry, companionship, sublimated desire. The bullshit quotient is in some ways an index of the bullshit quotient of male friendships, or maybe just the bullshit quotient of men.