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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

BookView Ireland

___________________________________________________________________ BookView Ireland :: January 2006 :: Issue No.126 From Irish Emigrant Publications,the free news service for the global Irish community Editor: Pauline Ferrie :: Copyright 2006 Irish Emigrant Ltd ___________________________________________________________________ This monthly supplement to the Irish Emigrant reviews books recently published in Ireland, and those published overseas which have an Irish theme. A searchable database of all books reviewed by us over the last six years is now available at ___________________________________________________________________ ******************* Irish Emigrant News Podcast ***************** We are now Podcasting news from the Irish Emigrant; so if you have an MP3 player or an iPod, point your podcasting software at, or choose to listen on your computer. To subscribe to the podcast in iTunes follow this link Our Podcast is a ten-minute selection of this week's news stories produced in association with doopdesign ***************************************************************** ___________________________________________________________________ ____CONTENTS Bestseller Lists Reviews - Magnum Ireland – ed. Brigitte Lardinois and Val Williams - Pretending – Caroline Williams - Lovers' Hollow – Orna Ross - Cesca's Diary 1913-1916 – Hilary Pyle - The Parting Glass – Eric Roth and Eileen McNamara - New Hibernia Review - Ed Thomas Dillon Renshaw - The Far Side of the World – James Durney - History Ireland, Jan/Feb 2006 - In the Bestsellers but not reviewed General News - US prize for Limerick writer - Yeats items presented to National Library - PEN award for Jennifer Johnston - Draiocht links with Dublin schools in poetry production - 2006 Franco-Irish Literary Festival - Exhibition at Princess Grace Library - Irish Book Awards shortlist - World Book Day 2006 - Advance for Charlie Bird's memoirs - Wicklow writers' collaboration - Newly published books BESTSELLERS LIST Paperback Fiction: 1. The Undomestic Goddess, Sophie Kinsella - Black Swan 2. The Broker, John Grisham - Arrow 3. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown - Corgi 4. Wish Upon a Star, Tina Reilly - Time Warner 5. Labyrinth, Kate Mosse - Orion Paperback Non-fiction: 1. Instant Confidence, Paul McKenna - Bantam 2. I Can Make You Thin, Paul McKenna - Bantam 3. Family Finance, Colm Rapple - Squirrel 4. The Money Doctor Finance Annual 2006, John Lower - Gill & Macmillan 5. Short Hands, Long Pockets, Eddie Hobbs - Currach Hardback Fiction 1. Tell Me Your Secret, Deirdre Purcell - Hodder Headline Ireland 2. If You Could See Me Now, Cecelia Ahern - Harper Collins 3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress,Paul Howard and Ross O'Carroll Kelly - Penguin Ireland 4. Vanish, Tess Gerritsen - Bantam 5. The Lincoln Lawyer, Michael Connelly - Orion Hardback Non-fiction: 1. The Pope's Children, David McWilliams - Gill & Macmillan 2. Jamie's Italy, Jamie Oliver - Michael Joseph 3. Is it Just Me or is Everything Shit?,Alan McArthur and Steve Lowe - Time Warner 4. Rucks, Mauls and Gaelic Football, Moss Keane & Billy Keane - Merlin 5. Time Added On: The Autobiography, George Hook - Penguin Ireland __________________________sponsor_______________________________ - Irish gifts to treasure Send someone a hand-crafted gift straight from Ireland. Wood craft, silver jewellery, wool throws, wildlife photography and more! In association with ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ ____REVIEWS ________________________________________________________ Magnum Ireland - ed. Brigitte Lardinois and Val Williams There were a number of compilations of photographs to choose from over Christmas but one of the most impressive has been "Magnum Ireland", a collection which charts the development of Ireland over the last fifty years through the lenses of some of the world's greatest photographers. The photographs, all the work of members of Magnum Photos, are complemented by contributions from notable Irish writers, from the foreword by Booker prizewinner John Banville to Nuala O'Faolain, Colm Toibin and Fintan O'Toole. The photographs are divided into sections covering a decade each, with the first, the 1950s, featuring work by the founder of Magnum Photos, Henri Cartier Bresson, who died last year. This period in our history is previewed by Anthony Cronin, himself a member of the literary coterie who would gather in McDade's Bar in Dublin and who believed that the true enemy of progress in Ireland was neither the Church nor the State, but its people. Nuala O'Faolain, in her introduction to the 1960s, sees "the past begin to end"; Eamonn McCann talks of the "rising rage" which "swamped all thought of global perspectives, canny strategy or idealogical cool" in the North of the 1970s; and Fintan O'Toole finds the Kerry Babies inquiry and the moving statues of the mid-1980s to be "closely related phenomena". Colm Toibin's view of the 1990s, a decade which demonstrated that the clergy were not an asexual group and which culminated in the increased affluence of the Celtic Tiger, sees an eroding of the "powerful monoliths" and an easing of historical problems; and in the introduction to our present decade Anne Enright draws a comparison between earlier generations and the generation of today, "the first that was not reared for export". All of these contributions significantly enhance the enjoyment and understanding of the wide range of representative photographs. "Magnum Ireland" as a collection merits more than just an idle glance, the diversity of the photographs presents a considered view of the changing face of Ireland since the early 1950s. A touring exhibition of the collection is due to open at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin in the spring. (Thames & Hudson, ISBN 0-500-54303-8, pp256, Stg29.95) ______________________________ Pretending – Caroline Williams This is a debut novel by Caroline Williams and I'm not entirely sure she has left herself any topics for a second book. The cast of characters experience straight sex, and gay and lesbian sex; the main character, Cuan, is a transgender candidate, and teenage pregnancy, stillbirth, abortion, miscarriage, multiple births, weddings, muggings, terminal cancer and the sudden appearance of a half-sister also figure in the narrative. The plethora of incidents are piled one on another until a picture emerges of a family and a group of friends who are striving to identify their place in their own and each other's lives. Pivotal to the story is Cuan, the teenage father of Ciara, loved by her mother Eleanor and by Martina, an older colleague. He is contrasted strongly with his older brother Michael, the dependable doctor who seems to be the only one who knows Cuan's true story. Although loved by everyone, Cuan is unable to express reciprocal love in a physical way with either Eleanor or Martina, except for two rare occasions which both coincidentally result in pregnancy. All the characters drawn by Ms Williams found themselves having to come to terms with Cuan's lifestyle; Eleanor turns to another woman for comfort while Martina learns to love him as a friend. Michael has always accepted his brother's difference unlike their father, Brian, who likes to keep his own secrets but can't cope when he learns those of Cuan. The characters are constantly on the move between Dublin, Galway, Clare and Donegal and the narrative moves smartly along, though the shortness of the chapters gives it a somewhat disjointed air. However the author manages to bring about some kind of contentment in the lives of most of the characters, many of whom begin new lives as the story comes to a close, and Cuan's journey from male to female is handled with a sensitivity that will undoubtedly increase understanding of the subject. (Penguin Ireland, ISBN1-844-88061-3, pp392, Stg9.99) __________________________ Lovers' Hollow - Orna Ross At 668 pages this debut novel is not for the fainthearted, but Ms Ross has created a riveting story spanning the years from the end of the War of Independence in 1922 to the Ireland of the mid- 1990s where the narrator believes that Dublin's "loudly touted, new- found cosmopolitanism always seems a child rigged out in its mother's high heels". It is a many stranded tale, a twisted kind of Romeo and Juliet story where two families on opposite sides of the political divide find themselves riven by much deeper and murkier deeds than those carried out in the course of hostilities. The differences evidenced by the acceptance of the Treaty are carefully and vividly brought to life in the political zeal of the Devereux family, who work and suffer for the Republican cause; the pro-Treaty side is seen in a much less sympathetic light, being painted as little more than a continuation of British rule. However the political and idealistic rivalries are overshadowed by the burgeoning and faltering of relationships between the Devereux family and the O'Donovans, relative newcomers to Wexford from Cork and avidly pro-Treaty. The younger members of each family seek to overcome this rivalry through the strength of their love for each other, but the only outcome is despair and death. This is the background to "Lovers' Hollow", but it is much much more than a story of a war-torn community, for the narrator is Jo Devereaux, a thirty-eight-year-old who, in 1995, is about to have her first child. Using the device of a series of papers left to Jo by her mother, the author has chronicled the story of four generations of a family, a story concentrating on the women rather than the men, women who are in many cases stronger than their menfolk but also women who have borne the scars of the family secrets. In extending the action from Wexford to London to San Francisco, as well as covering a seventy-year period, Ms Ross has succeeded in presenting a remarkable story which demonstrates an insight into and an understanding of the ways in which the state of being female can affect the mind. Jo's long journey to self- discovery is punctuated by alcoholism, a total rejection of family and a gradual understanding of the power she has over her own life. The whole narrative is also a gestation period for the baby she is carrying, a son whose delivery gives a new meaning to her life and allows her to place in perspective all the trials that have beset her. A marathon read this might be, but it is well worth the effort. (Penguin Ireland, ISBN 1-844-88052-4, pp668, EU13.99) _____________________________________ Cesca's Diary 1913-1916 – Hilary Pyle The author is no stranger to painstaking research in her biographical works, which include James Stephens, Jack B. Yeats and Susan L. Mitchell, and this patient attention to detail has contributed greatly to the interpretation of Frances Trench's diaries. Known as Cesca, Frances Trench was a member of a unionist family who became heavily committed to the cause of Irish nationalism despite spending much of her youth outside Ireland. She and her sister Margot became proficient in the Irish language and entered enthusiastically into the growing Gaelic movement; she came to be known as an artist as Sadhbh Trinseach. This enthusiasm also ensured that Gaelic figures and legends peopled much of her art, a subject she studied in both France and England. The pages of Cesca Trench's diaries reveal a young woman of spirit, a woman who revelled in all life had to offer her and who was not afraid to express her own opinions, even when they would cause disquiet to her listeners. She and her mother, Isabella Trench, held a truce on their differing views on recruitment in Ireland during the First World War, on whether or not to support Redmond. Almost as soon as they moved to Ireland Cesca became a member of Cumann na mBan and the section of her diaries covering the days surrounding the Easter Rising give an authentic idea of the confusion and the lack of information that characterised that event. A particular friend of the Hyde family (the foreword is written by Douglas Hyde Sealy, the grandson of the first president), Cesca came into contact with many of the leading figures of the day and this gives her diaries an added interest. Through her own words we are led through the labyrinth of the political movements of the early part of the twentieth century, as well as the path to love which resulted in her marriage to Diarmuid Coffey. She also had an artist's eye and often speaks of the beauties of the sky and sea, but she can also be disturbingly blunt about personal appearance; she says of Padraig Pearse, "'s a pity he's rather fat, and has such a soft hand when you shake it. I do not like soft hands in a man". Nor are the diaries lacking in humour; there is a wonderful description of a commander in the Citizen Army ordering his men to "left wheel", then "right wheel", and eventually shouting in frustration, "For the love of Heaven, will yez go up Henry Street". A contemporary account of Ireland at the time of the 1916 Rising, in addition to the observations of a lively artist who obviously enjoyed every minute of her life, has produced an arresting book which is enhanced by a number of the subject's sketches and paintings. Cesca's early death as a victim of Spanish 'Flu, which was curiously foreshadowed by a dream she experienced while studying in Paris, cut short what would undoubtedly have been a very fulfilled life. (Woodfield Press, ISBN 0-9534293-7-7, pp306, EU45.00) _________________________________________________ The Parting Glass – Eric Roth and Eileen McNamara Eric Roth and Eileen McNamara have toured the country to find pubs that have been untouched by the roar of the Celtic Tiger, pubs that have retained their authenticity and, in some cases, have retained the traditional dual trade of bar and grocery. The result is a sumptuous collection of photographs of establishments, many of which have remained in the same family for a number of generations. The writer and the photographer confined themselves to the South and travelled thousands of miles, eventually selecting a total of thirty-five pubs nationwide, almost all dating from at least the first half of the last century. Dublin and Cork feature the most prominently, with fourteen and eight entries respectively. In Dublin we are shown the two-hundred-year-old John Kehoe's which includes a photograph of the snug, the small room set aside for women to enjoy a drink before the liberating 1960s allowed them into bars. The Long Hall, John Mulligans and The Swan Bar are also chosen for inclusion. In Cork, Roth photographed Ma Murphy's in Bantry, O'Neill's in Butlerstown and the Castle Inn in Cork City. It is not simply the buildings, however, that make a traditional bar and the author also focuses on the landlord, the families who run the pubs and often live over them, and the regular customers. The Castle Inn is reputed to be the oldest family-run pub in Cork city and we are told not only about the O'Donovan family, Denis and Mary and their son Michael, but there is also a photograph of one of their regulars, former city councillor Bernie Murphy who is known as "the doctor" since receiving an honorary doctorate from a US university. Similarly, McCarthy's Bar in Castletownbere, made famous in Pete McCarthy's book, focuses on proprietor Adrienne McCarthy and her late father, an RAF physician during the Second World War. Some counties only receive one entry; Westmeath is represented by Sean's Bar in Athlone and Kilkenny's only entry is Lenahan's, unchanged since it was built in the 1920s. The text is enlivened throughout with apposite quotations from a number of Irish literary figures, including W. B. Yeats' "The problem with some people is that when they aren't drunk they're sober" and Flann O'Brien's homage to "a pint of plain". (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, ISBN 1-58479-438-0, pp144, $29.95) ______________________________________________ New Hibernia Review - Ed Thomas Dillon Renshaw The Autumn 2005 edition of this US-based literary magazine features the work of Gerard Smyth in its "New Poetry" section, Belfast writer Liam Carson writing on the Irish language as sanctuary, and Diarmuid O'Brien's review of the state of Irish theatre in the Abbey's centenary year of 2004. Sean Farrell writes on the burning of a Presbyterian church in south Armagh in the 18th century, while Mike Cronin examines the aims and accomplishments of the Tailteann Art competitions held in the early years of the State. Other contributors include B. Mairead Pratschke, Sophia Hillan, Jeanett Shumaker and Marianne McDonald. Among books reviewed in the magazine are Breda Gray's "Women and the Irish Diaspora"; "Snow Water" by Michael Longley; and "The Doctor's House: An Autobiography" by James Liddy. (University of St Thomas, ISBN 1092-3977, pp160, $35.00 per annum) ________________________________________ The Far Side of the World Irish Servicemen in the Korean War 1950-1953 – James Durney The author has gathered together information on a number of Irishmen who served in the Korean War, detailing their part in the hostilities and their eventual fate. Many were drafted after having emigrated to the United States, while the route to Korea for some was through emigration to Britain; this was the case with the author's father, Jimmy Durney, who was sent to Korea on conscription. Much of the first part of the book deals in some detail with the different battles in which Irish soldiers took part, mentioning in context the soldiers who had Irish backgrounds. This section also includes the names of a number of Columban Fathers, including Father Frank Canavan, who gave their lives. A better idea of the suffering endured by the soldiers is given when the author introduces personal testimony by such as Henry O'Kane from Derry and John Jennings from Co. Mayo. Perhaps the most interesting commentary is that provided by another Mayo man, William O'Mara, who describes his arrival at the front as a gradual loss of innocence; and he was not the only arriving soldier to wonder what he was doing there, though he was probably unique in quoting Sarsfield on the subject. The posthumous award of American citizenship to those Irishmen who gave their lives in the US Army in Korea was greeted by all veterans as a long-overdue recognition of their sacrifice for a country which was not their own. (Gaul House, ISBN 0-9549180-2-9, pp250, EU15.00) _____________________________ History Ireland, Jan/Feb 2006 This excellent bi-monthly magazine includes among its articles a number on less well-known characters and events in Irish history. In this latest edition Linda Kiernan relates the story of the O'Murphy family of five daughters, two of whom became artists' models in Paris with one going on to become the mistress of Louis XV and the mother of two of his children. Jim Shanahan tells the story of Michael 'Butty' Sugrue, the colourful boxing promoter and circus strongman who was responsible for bringing Mohammed Ali to Ireland to fight Al 'Blue' Lewis in 1972. Guy Beiner argues the importance of oral record in our understanding of historic events and Anthony Kinsella outlines the career of Clare man John Francis O'Reilly, a Nazi spy during the Second World War. Theatre and book reviews and letters to the editor add further to a wide-ranging and interesting publication. (History Publications,, EU5.50) ___________________________________ In the Bestsellers but not reviewed Of books mentioned in the Bestsellers list which we have not featured, "Tell Me Your Secret" is the latest novel by Deirdre Purcell. _____________________________________ Please see Classifieds on our website Announcements Bed and Breakfast Education Gifts for Irish Abroad: Moving Services: Professional Services: Property Sale/Rental/Exchange: Travel Services: ___________________________________________________________________ ____GENERAL NEWS ____________________________ US prize for Limerick writer Patrick O'Keeffe from Kilteely in Limerick, a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbour, has been awarded the $20k Story Prize in New York for his collection of four novellas, "The Hill Road". _________________________________________ Yeats items presented to National Library Michael Yeats, the son of W.B. Yeats, has presented a number of his father's items to the National Library where they will be incorporated into an exhibition on the poet. Among the items are an illuminated copy of "The Lake Isle of Inisfree", a Japanese sword, and the top hat worn by Yeats when he accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature. _______________________________ PEN award for Jennifer Johnston Novelist Jennifer Johnston has been honoured with an Irish Pen Life Achievement Award. The organisation, which has in the past honoured John B. Keane, Edna O'Brien and Seamus Heaney, was founded in 1921 by Lady Gregory. _______________________________________________________ Draiocht links with Dublin schools in poetry production A publication of poems composed by children from nine schools in Dublin 15, initiated by Draiocht, is on permanent display at the Draiocht Arts Centre. Six professional writers, Aine Ni Ghlinn, Aislinn O'Loughlin, Mae Leonard, Gina Moxley, Larry O'Loughlin and Seamus Cashman, worked with the children from September to December of last year and the poems were illustrated by Alan Clarke, Adrienne Geoghegan, Sarah Kernaghan and Olwyn Whelan. ___________________________________ 2006 Franco-Irish Literary Festival The 2006 Franco-Irish Literary Festival will take place from May 5-7 at the Coach House and the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle. Presented by the Alliance Francaise Dublin, the theme of this year's festival is "Convivialite, Living Together"; also to be celebrated is the centenary of Samuel Beckett. Among writers invited to the festival are Anthony Cronin, Wilhelm Genazino, Colette Felous and Gabriel Rosenstock. ____________________________________ Exhibition at Princess Grace Library The Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco is to host an exhibition of works by John Minihan, one of Ireland's most celebrated photographers. The exhibition, from March 17 to April 14, will include two photographs of writer Samuel Beckett to coincide with the centenary of his birth. John Minihan's book, "Samuel Beckett – Centenary Shadows", is to be published by Robert Hale. ___________________________ Irish Book Awards shortlist The shortlist for a new literary award has been announced. The Irish Book Awards has chosen eighteen titles to compete in three categories: Novel of the Year, Non-fiction Book of the Year, and Children's Book of the Year. The nominees for Novel of the Year include John Banville's Booker Prize-winning "The Sea", Nick Laird's "Utterly Monkey", Mick McCormack's "Notes from a Coma", William Wall's "This is the Country", Brian Lynch's "The Winner of Sorrow", and Lia Mill's "Nothing Simple". The Non-Fiction Book of the Year nominees include John McGahern's "Memoir", Brian Dillon's "In the Dark Room", Fintan O'Toole's "White Savage", Fergal Keane's "All of These People", Donal Nevin's "James Connolly", and David McWilliams' "The Pope's Children". The awards range from EU5,000 to EU10,000. The winners will be announced in March. ___________________ World Book Day 2006 World Book Day on March 2 will feature a number of special events including Books for Hospitals, the issuing of "Happy World Book Day" cards, and the publication of twelve "Quick Reads" aimed at emergent readers. In addition, book tokens for EU1.50 will be issued to every school child and six specially produced books for six different age groups will be available for that price. For full details see __________________________________ Advance for Charlie Bird's memoirs Journalist Charlie Bird, whose memoirs are due to be published by Gill & Macmillan this year, has secured an advance of EU100k. The publishers expect the book to be one of the big sellers of 2006. ______________________________ Wicklow Writers' Collaboration "The Marlton Mystery" is the result of a collaborative exercise by Wicklow Writers, with contributions from nine writers comprising a Wicklow-based story. The book is compiled by Nuala Gildea and edited by Aine Kelly. _______________________________________________________ Other newly published books not featured in the review: - "Staging the Easter Rising: 1916 as Theatre" – James Moran (ISBN 1-85918-401-4) - "Obligations and Responsibilities: Ireland and the United Nations 1955-2005" – ed. Michael Kennedy and Deirdre McMahon (ISBN 1-904541-36-4) - "Accountability in Irish Parliamentary Politics" – Muiris MacCarthaigh (ISBN 1-904541-31-3) - "Politics Inflamed: GSE and the Campaign Against Incineration in Ireland" – Liam Leonard (ISBN 1-905451-02-4) _________________________________________________________ BookView Ireland/Irish Emigrant Publications Editor: Pauline Ferrie a: Cathedral Building, Middle Street, Galway, Ireland t: +353 (0)91 569158 e: w: __________________________________________________________ To advertise, email Catherine at To help support this publication, see our voluntary subscription programme at __________________________________________________________
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