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Friday, July 28, 2006

BookView Ireland

___________________________________________________________________ BookView Ireland :: July 2006 :: Issue No.132 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 ______________________________sponsor______________________________ lets you play your local fundraising lottery no matter where you are! From the Abbeylara GAA Club to the West of Ireland Alzheimer's Foundation, you can support your local club or society... Visit: ___________________________________________________________________ ******************* 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 88097 Our Podcast is a ten-minute selection of this week's news stories produced in association with doopdesign ***************************************************************** ___________________________________________________________________ ____CONTENTS Bestseller Lists - Paperback Fiction - Paperback Non-fiction - Hardback Fiction - Hardback Non-fiction Reviews - Love Comes Tumbling – Denise Deegan - Alexander Nimmo & The Western District - Kathleen Villiers-Tuthill - Betrayal – Paul Carson - The Great Book of the Shapers – Re O Laighleis - The Fertile Rock, Seasons in the Burren – Carsten Krieger - Surprised by Joy – Michael Meegan - The Ivy Leaf, The Parnells Remembered – McCartney & Travers - Blood on the Shamrock – Cathal Liam - For The Kids 2 – Liffey Press - In the Bestsellers but not reviewed General News - 6th International Literature Festival Berlin - Heaney on Forward shortlist - Launch of book on first city manager - Shortlist for Frank O'Connor Prize - Poetry collection launched in Galway - John Hewitt Summer School - "Writers Entertain" at Dublin Writers' Museum - Other newly published books not featured in the review ______________________________sponsor______________________________ Register at and get two bingo bucks free. Join the Irish room, meet the gang and play to win. Play bingo and support an Irish charity. Two bingo bucks gets you 8 free tickets in the Irish room. Our bingo chat is a great place to meet people. Why not chat and play. Meet our moderators who keep the team spirit and join in with the fun and games. You can deposit funds into your account by laser,debit or credit card through our secure online e-commerce facility. So whether your alias is James B or M. Mouse log on and play to win. By playing you are generously supporting an Irish charity that assists over 60,000 people in Ireland and the UK. Register now at: ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ ____BESTSELLERS LIST Paperback Fiction 1. If You Could See Me Now, Cecelia Ahern – Harper Collins 2. How Will I Know?, Sheila O'Flanagan - Headline 3. The Lincoln Lawyer, Michael Connelly - Orion 4. Lifeguard, James Patterson & Andrew Gross - Headline 5. Betrayal, Paul Carson - Arrow Paperback Non-fiction 1. The Untouchables, Paul Williams - Merlin 2. The Pope's Children, David McWilliams – Gill & Macmillan 3. Memoir, John McGahern - Faber 4. The Healing Code, Dermot O'Connor – Hodder Headline Ireland 5. I Know You Got Soul, Jeremy Clarkson - Penguin Hardback Fiction 1. Past Secrets, Cathy Kelly – Harper Collins 2. Break No Bones, Kathy Reichs – William Heinemann 3. Judge and Jury, James Patterson & Andrew Gross - Headline 4. Hard Way, Lee Child - Bantam 5. At Risk, Patricia Cornwell – Little, Brown Hardback Non-fiction 1. Marley and Me, John Grogan - Hodder 2. The Dangerous Book for Boys, Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden – Harper Collins 3. Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, Anthony Beevor – Weidenfeld & Nicholson 4. Gordon Ramsay Sunday Lunch: And Other Recipes, Gordon Ramsey – Quadrille 5. District and Circle, Seamus Heaney - Faber _________________________sponsor___________________________________ Amazon Buy your books online 30% off at Visit: ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ ____REVIEWS ___________________________________ Love Comes Tumbling – Denise Deegan If this book were a sandwich, it could be described as one with plenty of filling but made on inferior bread. Both the opening and the closing chapters disappoint, but there is enough 'meat' in the middle to satisfy the reader. The introduction of the two main characters, Lucy and Greg, is particularly unpromising, as is their initial antagonism, which you know will be turned on its head in later chapters. Similarly the final chapters contain almost too much good news for the characters, with the only jarring note having been fairly obvious throughout the narrative. It seems that it will be the typical boy-meets-girl, boy and girl fall out, boy and girl live happily every after novel, but the introduction of bipolar disorder injects life into the plot. Both Lucy and Greg have suffered loss, one of a fiance and the other of his wife in childbirth, and this is one thing that brings them closer. However Greg's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic until he is persuaded to visit a doctor and begin treatment. By this time Lucy has had to take over the care of his two young children, Rachel and Toby, who have been in danger of total neglect. Add into the equation a devoted nanny who hopes her relationship with Greg will deepen and who consequently becomes insanely jealous of Lucy, and you have an interesting story. The gradual realisation that Greg is suffering from a mental disorder is dealt with skilfully, and as well as becoming an important part of the unfolding story, the progress of the condition, together with its gradual control by medication, will provide much-needed information on an illness which still has a stigma attached. Ms Deegan's treatment of the topic is sensitive and non-sensational, particularly in the effect on the family of someone with bipolar disorder. The fear, frustration and feelings of inadequacy experienced by Greg's children, by Lucy and by his extended family will strike a chord with anyone who has been touched by the condition. So despite a somewhat weak opening chapter, "Love Comes Tumbling" recovers to be a novel written with skill, understanding and an ear for authentic dialogue. (Penguin Ireland, ISBN 1-844-88094-X, pp402, Stg10.99) ____________________________________________________________________ Alexander Nimmo and the Western District – Kathleen Villiers-Tuthill When we complain about the state of the roads in Connemara today it might be a salutary exercise to look back to the experiences of Scottish engineer Alexander Nimmo. He it was who undertook the hazardous and difficult journeys around Galway and Mayo to devise and lay out the present system, and the conditions now pale into insignificance when compared with those he endured. In this excellently presented study of Nimmo, Kathleen Villiers- Tuthill provides details of works carried out, of reports delivered to central Government and of the cost of a number of works involving roads, bridges and piers. Having had experience of road and bridge building in the Highlands of Scotland, Nimmo was admirably placed to take on the task of providing a network of communication for a region that was desolate, populated by a sparse peasantry and in economic distress. His emphases appear to have been divided between providing a viable network of roads and providing employment for a populace facing famine, and it is sometimes difficult to tell which took precedence with him. Certainly some of the criticism levelled against him, that he left roads unfinished, could be explained by his endeavours to provide work where it was most needed. He also favoured moving on to new roads rather than spending the government funds on maintenance and repair of existing roads and bridges. But extracts from Nimmo's own reports and letters emphasise the benefits accrued to the economy of the regions by the provision of an adequate means of communication between villages and harbours. A lighter note is presented by the comment of Maria Edgeworth on the double failure of a bridge at Leenaun, built in a location chosen by Nimmo but against the advice of a local man. The government of the day was anxious for the responsibility of the roads to be handed over to local Grand Juries, and this Nimmo failed to accomplish in most cases, blaming a lack of resources for his failure. Eventually his accounting system was called into question, though he was exonerated of any wrongdoing, and another engineer, John Killaly, was sent in to take over from him; it is interesting to note that, according to the same Ms Edgeworth, Mr Killaly had no better luck with the bridge at Leenaun than did his predecessor. While acknowledging that Nimmo was opportunistic in his establishing the village of Roundstone and letting out premises to government workers, Ms Villers-Tuthill has striven with some success to exonerate his reputation and has brought to life a man who until now has been but a name to most people. (Connemara Girl Publications, ISBN –09530455-3-6, pp248, EU25.00) ______________________ Betrayal – Paul Carson This latest thriller from Paul Carson is once again centred on Dublin and in particular a Dublin prison where Dr Frank Ryan looks after the inmates. It is a challenging position welcomed by the Australian doctor who does not yet want to settle down, and it is a job which leads him into an extraordinarily complicated world of trafficking in drugs, arms and women, war crimes, and an unholy alliance among criminals. To read and take in all the facets of this story requires concentration, and the final outcome is kept satisfyingly and tantalisingly out of reach until the last chapter. In his descriptions of the daily workings of an Irish prison the author is particularly successful; the pendulum of power seems to pass constantly between the prisoners and their minders, corruption is rife and only the strongest survive. As an outsider coming into Harmon Penitentiary on a regular basis Frank Ryan is well placed to observe the workings of the system, and to avoid the mistakes of his predecessor which led to an untimely death. Unwittingly, however, Frank manages to become embroiled in a conspiracy of governments, of international criminals, witness protection programmes and UN investigators, a conspiracy brought frighteningly to life through his first person narrative. And amid the atrocities and the criminal violence is the gentler story of his love affair with Lisa, a woman about whom he increasingly realises he knows very little. Frank's bewilderment as to who is the manipulator ordering his life is well sustained in a plot that has him travelling to Serbia to try to find answers, and the final chapters of the novel gradually and with mounting tension reveal what one has suspected all the time, that some of the bad guys will be found to be on the side of right. And what confirms Paul Carson's skill as a storyteller is the delicacy and the subtlety with which he deals with the fate of Frank's relationship with Lisa. (Arrow Books, ISBN0-09-946929-4, pp454, EU10.25) ______________________________________________ The Great Book of the Shapers – Re O Laighleis After an unpromising start this satire on the arts world in a thinly disguised western town turns a caustic eye on the perceived falsity of those professing to be at the heart of artistic endeavour. The subtitle of the book, "A right kick up in the Arts" will give some clue to its flavour; the derivation of the term "Shaper", the artistic equivalent of the more general 'poseur', is first promulgated. The reader is then introduced to the leading characters, Shaperus Maximus, Shaperus Secundus, Shaperus Administrratus and, playing a pivotal role, local poet Poetica. Add a journalist from the Oirish Chimes, who meets an early demise in a pub called Knock Down's, and the scene is set for a summer of preparation for the annual arts festival. Is art imitating life or is it just coincidence that O Laighleis' book also features a breakaway group of local artists who decide to mount a counter-attack? Martineen, once a stalwart of the legitimate arts scene in Slagway, is the leader of the renegade group though, rather in the fashion of Orwell's Animal Farm, the power of his position leads him inexorably to imitate the postures of his enemies. And once again Poetica, the poet who has been working on a ten-poem collection for the past twelve years (only one is completed so far), enters the scene, using the gullible Martineen to gain her revenge on Maximus. And over all hovers the Fly, not just any common or garden housefly but a Fly descended from an African tse-tse fly and an anopheles mosquito. His is the voice which underlines the absurdities of the art world, and his is the sting which causes such discomfort to all of those who succumb to Poetica, described with some justice as "the great maker of lays in Slagway". And the Fly is perfectly placed for the climax of the story, the day of the parade when Shaperus Maximum presents the people of Slagway with the festival's theme "Fresh Air". This turns out to be a perfect adaptation of the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes and, as the parade is hijacked and directed towards a watery end, the shapers take part in a final hypocrisy. Re O Laighleis has written a stylish and entertaining parody of the earnestness of those in the arts world who are, as he says in his introduction, "the bane of the life of the true artist and arts administrator". Many of the references will be readily accessible to even the non-Galway based reader and I suspect that, were I more familiar with the cast of characters in the world of arts, many more would have been easily identifiable. (Moinin, ISBN 0-9532777-8-X, pp114, EU12.50) ______________________________sponsor______________________________ LOW COST CAR RENTALS IN IRELAND Get great discounts on car rental in Ireland at Argus Rentals, Ireland's leading independent car rental company, offer great rates in Ireland and in over 4,500 locations worldwide. Choose from a large fleet of modern vehicles. Great rates. Excellent customer service. For further information check out: 353-(0)1-4904444 ___________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ The Fertile Rock, Seasons in the Burren – Carsten Krieger While being filled with a variety of beautifully photographed scenes of this area of County Clare, Carsten Krieger's book is much more than just a pictorial record. Although the text is kept to a minimum it manages to encompass the history, geology, flora and fauna of a unique limestone landscape, explaining how Arctic and Mediterranean flowers come to be flourishing side by side and how farming methods have ensured the survival of these rare plants. As the title would suggest, Krieger has divided his photographs into seasons to illustrate the changing face of the landscape, a landscape that is further changed by the seasonal appearance and disappearance of lakes, or turloughs. Thus we see Carron turlough completely dried up in the spring, while a similar photograph taken in the winter shows it nearer its maximum size of three kilometres in length and half a kilometre wide. The contrast is also sharply focused in two photographs taken of the Ballyvaghan valley, one in the green of summer and the other dressed in autumnal browns. The wide views of the valleys and uplands of the Burren are remarkable, but even more so are the close-ups of the many flowers for which the area is noted. Particular attention is lavished on the many different species of orchid, and Krieger does not confine himself to recording them in full bloom, but also finds beauty in their dying days. Nor does he overlook the animal and bird life and the text is particularly informative on this topic. It seems, however, that the pine marten and the stoat proved too elusive as, much to my disappointment, these are not among the animals featured. "The Fertile Rock" could be described as a coffee-table book but in fact it is much more, it is a plea for visitors to treat the area with sensitivity, to avoid upsetting the ecological balance. In the final section the author paints a not unrealistic picture of how the Burren might be in twenty years time if locals and visitors are allowed to plunder its treasures. It is a final proof, if proof were needed, that Carsten Kreiger has photographed and written of a place he loves. (Collins Press, ISBN 1-905172-02-8, pp162, EU25.00) _________________________________ Surprised by Joy – Michael Meegan Michael Meegan has spent much of his life tending to the poor and the sick of Africa and this book is an impassioned plea for help to continue the work. It is not, however, a plea for just financial aid, for Meegan learnt early the futility of throwing money at a problem. Instead he urges us all to come to realise the gross inequalities of life and to understand that we all have a duty to correct those inequalities. He nudges the conscience of the reader by giving startling statistics of the imbalance, for example the fact pointed out by the World Bank, that the six richest people in the world are richer than the six hundred millionpoorest. However "Surprised by Joy" is far from all statistics and harrowing stories of deprivation and disease, though there are plenty of these. The author's own spiritual journey, the examples he has met of the innate goodness and joy of mankind, and portraits of the many people who have positively influenced his life, make of this an inspiring account of what is being done and what can be done by everyone for those to whom life has dealt a poor hand. The underlying call is to each one of us to recognise our responsibility towards our fellow-humans, a responsibility that Meegan has met with compassion and with practical help through the establishment of ICROSS, the International Community for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering. It has to be added that his book also has its lighter moments, as in his efforts to teach the importance of safe sex, and his wonderful description of the "barking mad" former wildlife photographer Michaela Denis as "like Bette Davis on speed". (Maverick House, ISBN 1-905379-05-6, pp260, EU10.99) ________________________________________________________________ The Ivy Leaf, The Parnells Remembered – Donal McCartney & Pauric Travers The authors are respectively president of the Parnell Society and academic director of the Parnell Summer School, and are eminently qualified to write on Charles Stewart Parnell and his family. Many of the essays were written for particular events held by the society and the fact that they were composed for a listening audience gives them increased accessibility. All aspects of Parnell's life are covered, with one chapter devoted to his time spent in Kilmainham during the Land League protests; this period does not seem to have been one of particular deprivation for him. Although Parnell was not known as a great orator, Pauric Travers manages to provide proof of some oratorical expertise on major topics. One particularly interesting essay deals with the women in Parnell's life; apart from the obvious Kathleen O'Shea, he was also surrounded by his mother Delia and his two sisters Fanny and Anna, both active in the Ladies' Land League. Both of his sisters died at a comparatively young age, Anna having not spoken to her brother for a number of years after a political disagreement. Parnell's funeral, the Ivy Day celebrations, and the war waged against his reputation after his death by the hierarchy of Ireland, give further insight into the character and legacy of a man whose downfall was seen as one of Ireland's great missed opportunities. (UCD Press, ISBN 978-1-904558-59-0, pp204, EU25.00) ___________________________________ Blood on the Shamrock – Cathal Liam Perhaps it is that I am too familiar with the historical details surrounding the Civil War that I found Cathal Liam's novel on the subject overlong, but certainly the fictional aspect has been subsumed into a welter of detail on the era. That the book is aimed at an audience not well versed in 20th century Irish history is evidenced by the preface to the final chapters, which suggests that the reader might like to refer once again to the first two chapters to refresh the memory. The story opens with the ambush at Beal na Blath and then looks back to the events leading to the rejection of the Treaty and the outbreak of civil war. It is apparent that the author has carried out extensive research and makes good use of contemporary reports to convey a feeling for the period. Interweaving actual characters with fictional companions throws an interesting light on the events and on the emotions that might have been experienced by such as Michael Collins and Cathal Brugha, and as a sequel to an earlier novel it achieves a continuity of narrative. The names chosen for the fictional characters can be a bit confusing, the protagonist Aran marries Sarah Ann who is variously known as Sarah and Annie; the fact that a closely associated female character is called Aine compounds the confusion. In a similar fashion, an Irish American is known as Gabriel, Gay or Gabby, with two of the names sometimes used within the one sentence. "Blood on the Shamrock" is unashamedly biased towards the pro-Treaty side and makes a towering hero of Michael Collins, while having not one good word to say about Eamon de Valera. However not all anti-treaty adherents are painted in such a bad light, and the author includes a sympathetic portrait of the death of Liam Lynch to somewhat redress the balance. (St Padraic Press, ISBN 0-9704155-2-4, pp540, $16.00) _____________________________ For The Kids 2 – Liffey Press This revised edition of a comprehensive guide for entertaining children throughout Ireland has sixty-six new entries and would seem to be the answer to every parent's prayer; though given that many excursions are organised by grandparents, the entrance fee for senior citizens might have been a further addition to the information given. The book is divided into provinces and the attractions included will appeal to all tastes, from waterworlds to old castles, from model railways to quad bike trails. There appears to be a plethora of country parks all around Ireland offering the chance for walks of varied lengths, and also an abundance of pet farms offering hands-on experience to children. There is even one in Crumlin, Co. Antrim dedicated to caring for injured wildlife in a natural environment. With an illustration to accompany each attraction, details of opening hours, location and entrance fees, and an alphabetical listing, this is an essential guide for anyone faced with the question, "What are we doing today?" (Liffey Press, ISBN 1-904148-85-9, pp222, EU14.95) ___________________________________ In the Bestsellers but not reviewed Of books mentioned in the Bestsellers list which we have not featured, "The Untouchables" is Paul Williams' account of the Criminal Assets Bureau; and Dermot O'Connor's "The Healing Code" chronicles his use of both Eastern and Western medicine to combat a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. ___________________________________________________________________ ____CLASSIFIEDS 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 ____________________________________________ 6th International Literature Festival Berlin The 6th International Literature Festival Berlin takes place from September 5 to 16 and among the 107 authors who have so far confirmed their attendance will be Monica Ali, Isabel Allende, Jostein Gaarder, Doris Lessing, Frank McCourt and Gao Xingjian. Frank McCourt will talk about his latest book, "Teacher Man". See for further details. ___________________________ Heaney on Forward shortlist One of the six poets shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best collection is Seamus Heaney, for his latest collection "District and Circle". Also on the list are Paul Farley: "Tramp in Flames"; Vicki Feaver: "The Book of Blood"; Kate Bingham: "Quicksand Beach"; Robin Robertson: "Swithering"; and Penelope Shuttle "Redgrove's Wife". ____________________________________ Launch of book on first city manager Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Dick Roche has launched the IPA book entitled "Philip Monahan - A Man Apart", on the life of Ireland's first City Manager; he managed Cork for 35 years. The book, by Dr Aodh Quinlivan is part biography and part commentary. ___________________________________________________ Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize 2006 The shortlist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize, run in association with the Irish Times, has been announced. The only Irish author on the list is Philip O Ceallaigh for "Notes from A Turkish Whorehouse" (see for review). Also on the list are Haruki Murakami's "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman" (Japan); "The First Hurt" by Rachel Sherman (US); "In Strange Gardens & Other Stories" by Peter Stamm (Swiss German); from the UK Rose Tremain's "The Darkness of Wallis Simpson"; and "The Royal Ghosts" by Samrat Upadhyay (US). _____________________________________ Debut collection from Marion Moynihan During July Marion Moynihan from Kanturk, Co. Cork launched her first collection of poetry, "The Moon's Daughter". The collection was launched by Michael Gorman, who taught her on the MA in Writing course at NUI, Galway; he described it as a most impressive collection. The book is published by Doghouse Publishers in Tralee. _________________________ John Hewitt Summer School The 19th International John Hewitt Summer School took place in Armagh during the last week in July. Among those participating were novelists Joseph O'Connor and Patrick McCabe, poet Paul Durcan and playwright Martin Lynch. The theme of this year's festival was "Finding the nation; new entities, new identities", and the keynote speech was delivered by historian Professor Marianne Elliott. _____________________________________________ "Writers Entertain" at Dublin Writers' Museum "Writers Entertain", a one-man performance about some of Ireland's most famous writers, including Beckett, Joyce, Wilde, Shaw, Yeats and Heaney, will continue throughout the month of August at the Dublin Writers' Museum. Presenting the performance on alternate days are Noel Cummins and Neil O'Shea. ______________________________________________________ Other newly published books not featured in the review: - "Ireland's Great Famine", Cormac O Grada (ISBN 978-1-904558-57-6) - "Ireland and the Global Question", Michael J. O'Sullivan (ISBN 1- 85918-402-2) - "Landlords, Tenants, Famine", Desmond Norton (ISBN 978-1-904558- 55-2) - "Ireland Since 1939", Henry Patterson (ISBN 1-844-88103-2) ___________________________________________________________________ BookView Ireland/Irish Emigrant Publications Editor: Pauline Ferrie a: Cathedral Building, Middle Street, Galway, Ireland t: +353 (0)91 569158 e: w: ___________________________________________________________________
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