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Irish Author Challenge - General Thread

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Edited: Jan 1, 5:24am Top


Jan 1, 5:24am Top


January : EDNA O'BRIEN
April : Samuel Beckett
September : RODDY DOYLE

Jan 1, 11:54am Top

I think I'll probably try Little Red Chairs unless something else screams out at me when I get back to the library.

Jan 1, 12:12pm Top

Uh, oh. I swore I wasn't doing any challenges, except for the basic 75 and the Two Guidos, but . . . Irish . . . maybe . . .

Jan 1, 1:08pm Top

Bought my copy of Little Red Chairs a couple of days ago. I'm looking forward to it and to this challenge.

Jan 1, 6:23pm Top

Added to the group wiki!

Edited: Jan 1, 7:07pm Top

I saw the thread title and had to come and look but I've read some or all of many of the above authors. However some I have been intending to pursue or pursue further so I may pop in and out. Last year I read some Sean O'Faolain--and I have two or three more on my shelves, inherited from my mother's collection, hope to read this year.

Some further titles and/or writers I hope to investigate:
Amongst Women John McGahern
The Third Policeman Flann O'Brien
At Swim Two Birds Flann O'Brien
The Book of Evidence John Banville
The Butcher Boy Patrick McCabe
Strumpet City James Plunkett
Further reading Edna O'Brien
Tarry Flynn Patrick Kavanagh
Judith Hearne Brian Moore
Some rereading of Elizabeth Bowen
ditto Mary Lavin
How Many Miles to Babylon Jennifer Johnston
My Oedipus Complex Frank O'Connor
Further reading Kate O'Brien

This list has been slowly evolving and has been floating around for ages, I can't even remember how or why some books got onto it. If I get anywhere or read something marvelous I will let you all know!

I will say that Mary Lavin is a gem -- a protestant short story writer. Really terrific.

Jan 1, 7:34pm Top

I started reading O'Brien's Tales for the Telling: Irish Folk and Fairy Stories this morning.

Jan 3, 6:45pm Top

I'm also reading The Little Red Chairs.

Jan 3, 9:26pm Top

I started The Country Girls yesterday and am enjoying it immensely. The copy I have has all three novels, but I don't know if I'll read all 3 now or just stop with the first.

Jan 8, 1:29pm Top

I'm listening to The Country Girls, read by the author. I enjoy the listen, found the first part heartbreaking, don't like Baba at all and could well do without her manipulations.

Jan 8, 1:33pm Top

The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien

Date of Publication : 1960
Pages : 224

Irish Author Challenge - January 2018
1001 First Edition

I read this book many moons ago in my impressionable youth and impress me it did then and did again this time.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that she paved the way for female emancipation in the Erin isle but she did highlight small town problems from the feminine perspective; drunkenness, the oppression of the woman by man and by religion . That she did so with such lyrically mellifluous prose heightened the experience and the understanding of the themes presented.

I vaguely remembered the drunken Da, Mr. Brennan, Martha, the Nuns, the manipulative Baba and, of course, Cait but they are well drawn characters in this exceptional debut novel.

A good start to the IAC challenge for me.

Jan 9, 1:44am Top

I am going to read a couple of her short stories that I have in collections.

Just to confirm, is there just a General Thread for both the BAC and IAC this year?

Jan 9, 9:15am Top

>13 kac522: I know you found it on your own, Kathy, but in case others are looking, Here's a link to the BAC general threa for 2018.

Jan 10, 4:24pm Top

I decided to read 2 O'Brien short stories which I found in collections on my shelf:

"Irish Revel" (1968) from The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories, edited by William Trevor
"Sister Imelda" (1981) from A Green and Mortal Sound: Short Fiction by Irish Women

Although very different settings, both stories are about teen-age girls who feel out of place from the rest of their worlds, and are at once in ecstasy and despair. I think the best way to describe O'Brien's writing is by two quotes from the latter story, but they apply equally well to the first story:

..."a sky that was scarcely ever without the promise of rain or a downpour." and

..."my version of pleasure was inextricable from pain, that they existed side by side, and were interdependent, like the two forces of electricity."

Jan 13, 9:31am Top

So, I finished my January IAC, The Country Girls, and rated with 3.8. I personally enjoyed the author's reading, but I know many others didn't. It was slow, sometimes with pauses that didn't make sense and much loud breathing, but it felt very engaged, like her voice was breaking.

The story itself was okay. I know it's an important book in Irish literature, I just couldn't connect to the characters very well, or maybe I should say I connected too well with Caithleen and lost my patience with her when it came to Baba. And to her dad. And to Mr Gentleman. There's much Caithleen in me (and no Baba at all), and I'm very grateful that those weren't my own circumstances in life. The next one in the series is also 1001-listed, but I don't feel very tempted to read more about how various people trample over undecided Caithleen.

I wonder if Ferrante got some inspiration from this trilogy. Caithleen in her passivity, but also with her colors, reminded me of Lenu and Baba of Lila (who was also black-haired, boyish-elegant and thin) but without the empathy.

Jan 20, 4:07pm Top

I’m afraid Edna is going to have to slip into February. The best laid plans...

Jan 20, 6:16pm Top

I just finished The Little Red Chairs. I didn't love it as some did. I found the alternating narrators difficult to follow and the novel a bit too contemporary for my taste. Full review is on my thread or can be found on the book's review page.

Jan 21, 12:14pm Top

Dunno if I'm ever going to finish The Little Red Chairs. Since I read the first 50 or so pages, I've finished four other books that I had going at the time, and still have four going that call out more loudly to me whenever I have a chance to read. Oh, and I start teaching Wuthering Heights this week, so I'll be rereading that.

Jan 23, 5:57am Top

I finished The Country Girls earlier this month, and here's the link to my review: The Country Girls Review

Jan 24, 8:24pm Top

The Little Red Chairs is the first book I've read of O'Brien's so I don't know how typical this is of her writing. The setting is post WWII in a small village in Ireland, which seems to have been suspended in time. The villagers have long established relationships and expectations of each other. Enter a stranger who claims to be a poet and a healer. Greeted with suspicion, he gradually attracts women to his clinic and begins to establish himself. The book is a look at the power of evil, even to those whose lives are brushed by it. Heavy reading but very well done.

I'm going to pick something lighter for February!

Edited: Jan 28, 12:17pm Top

>21 karenmarie:

Read and reviewed the entire trilogy - rated it at 3.0.

Feb 1, 5:16am Top

>23 m.belljackson: Hi Marianne. I hope I get back to the other two books, but don't know when. They aren't on my radar right now.

Feb 1, 8:15am Top

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Country Girls Trilogy and thought that the second book in the three was a particular stand-out.

Feb 1, 9:20am Top

It's so many years since I read that trilogy Paul. I didn't get to Edna in Jan, but I plan to sometime this year.

Feb 11, 6:52pm Top

Is there a William Trevor thread? I seem so overwhelmed with all the 75er posts this year. Anyway, I finished William Trevor yesterday ... here tis

Love and summer by William Trevor

My wish would be to say that this was just a lovely book and character study by Irish author William Trevor. But lovely isn't quite the right word - there's bits of darkness and sadness in here of the story of a number of people whose lives interlace. The detailed descriptions of things in here ARE lovely, and some readers might find themselves bored with it if they were looking for an action novel. I was rather enchanted with all the descriptive detail and really drawn into the story of these people's lives. There were a couple of times I had a bit of difficulty with following the dialogue and not knowing who was speaking or what exactly they were saying. A small part of this I am sure is the "Irish" manner of speaking that the author employs, where I would think a word or two was missing from the sentence and wondering if it was a typo error that slipped through. But some of it is just that a conversation wasn't written clearly enough for me. Something I rarely encounter. Despite a few stumbles here and there I loved this book. This was published in 2009 and seems to be set around 1960 or so in a small town in Ireland. In the author's words the story begins "On a June evening some years after the middle of the last century ..." This is a very slow paced story with a lot of detail. What is it about? Among other things it is about first love experienced by an already married young woman. 4 stars

I plan to read more of Trevor this year.

Feb 12, 1:03pm Top

William Trevor's The Children of Dynmouth, while well-written with intriguing characters,
was 4 Stars chilling to read and I'm glad it's behind me.

Despite the philosophical and wistfully hopeful rector's wife ending,
Timothy remains an unforgettable enigma:
increasingly dangerous because of his young life with no love...?
showing treatable genetic connections to his long gone father...?

Feb 12, 4:18pm Top

>28 m.belljackson: I debated reading that one, but opted for The Story of Lucy Gault.

Feb 12, 4:29pm Top

I've discovered that my local library has half a dozen of William Trevor's novels and story collections on the shelf, plus one in storage, 'The Children of Dynmouth'. Since I just read one of his last works I opted to place a request for The Children to see an early work.

Feb 13, 3:16pm Top

>28 m.belljackson:

If you give Lucy Gault a great recommendation, that Trevor will warrant a try.

I decided to go south of Ireland with my next TBR, A Month in the Country.

How welcome was the rumble of low key wit!

Maybe the Irish had nothing to laugh about until they cruised over here
and elected JFK...? Or maybe a good and funny one is still to come...?

Feb 14, 12:27am Top

Late out of the gate with my Edna O'Brien; but I finished The Little Red Chairs. It was OK, but the characters all seemed unlikely. I may try one of her earlier books another time.

I am not sure if I will get to William Trevor or not. I have Love and Summer on the kindle, and so may get to it.

Feb 14, 7:42pm Top

I just finished Lucy Gault. I found it very interesting and the descriptions of the countryside very well done. But it was one of the saddest books I've read in quite awhile and some of the actions of the main characters didn't make sense to me.

Last month I read The Little Red Chairs. Are all Irish novels so depressing?

Feb 14, 9:44pm Top

>33 Oregonreader: I'm still reading it, but I'm loving Trevor's writing. It does appear to be sad.

Feb 15, 10:08am Top

>31 m.belljackson: Maybe the Irish had nothing to laugh about...

For funny Irish novels, you want Flann O'Brien or Roddy Doyle, or maybe early Maeve Binchey.

>33 Oregonreader: Are all Irish novels so depressing? An awful lot of them are - the keeping/revealing of disastrous secrets is an especially common theme. Emerges out of the long history of negotiating life under British oppression.

Edited: Feb 15, 10:13am Top

Never mind. Wrong place for this.

Feb 15, 1:34pm Top

>35 majleavy:

Thanks for the funny Irish authors...

and now wonder if anyone can suggest titles by these three that were really enjoyed...?

Edited: Feb 16, 12:37pm Top

>37 m.belljackson: Loved Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha, although it probably isn't one of the funnier ones. Circle of Friends is my favorite Binchy. Again, the humor has to hit you just right.

I am currently reading William Trevor's collection, A Bit on the Side.

Feb 16, 3:20pm Top

Finished Fools of Fortune. Whilst it didn't strike me in the same way as the other Trevor's I have read The Story of Lucy Gault and Felicia's Journey (both of which I think are excellent), it was exceedingly readable and in a slow way captivating. I'm musing over the ending days later...

Feb 16, 6:17pm Top

I didn't much care for Felicia's Journey. I dragged myself through all 200-odd pages of it only to discover that, yes, I had actually figured it out from the description on the back.

Feb 16, 10:04pm Top

I finished The Story of Lucy Gault. I love Trevor's writing. I posted the review on my thread, so I'll only mention it's one which will stick with me for awhile and one that would lend itself well to a group discussion.

Feb 17, 9:54pm Top

I'd endorse >38 laytonwoman3rd:'s suggestions and add The Commitments from Doyle and The Lilac Bus from Binchy. I'm not sure that the Binchys are funny as such, but certainly are not depressing. In the years before she became an international best-seller she was well-loved in Ireland for her gentle, sympathetic touch. The Doyle, by the way is fouler-mouthed than my students are outside the classroom - which is pretty foul - but I recall it as hysterical.

Feb 18, 5:38am Top

I read and quite disliked Felicia's Journey. It started well and creepy, but somehow I completely stopped caring about a third in, and then I don't know if the ending had any deeper meaning I didn't get or was just sad and kind of dull without a purpose. I'll read the other Trevors on the 1001 list eventually, but no more this month.

Feb 18, 11:00am Top

I know this won't come up till December, but the writer Colum McCann was just interviewed on my favourite Sunday morning CBC radio program. I think the interview has inspired me to seek out a book by him. Not sure posting the interview here is relevant but sometimes my problem is that interviews end up better than their books.

Feb 18, 2:38pm Top

>44 jessibud2: Oh, I think you should post the interview. I haven't ready and McCann; but I am looking forward to December, as Mrs. Banjo really liked Transatlantic

Edited: Feb 18, 2:54pm Top

>45 banjo123: - Ok, Rhonda, here you go. I have not read anything by him but I am a sucker for his lovely lilting accent and may well find something to choose by the time we get to December in this challenge.

It's a good interview:

Colum McCann interview

(There is a *Listen* button if you want to hear it rather than just read the transcript)

Feb 18, 3:15pm Top

Well! Seems the CBC is on an Irish tear today. Here is an interview with Edna O'Brien that I am listening to, as I type. Maybe I need to get active in this challenge!

Interview with Edna O'Brien

Feb 26, 11:49pm Top

No idea for March yet... Is there a short and easy/ not too depressing one? The month is already quite filled up with long and demanding books.

Edited: Feb 27, 4:00pm Top

>48 Deern:

The third one seems to be the charm here.

I'm halfway through Deirdre Madden's Time Present and Time Past
and now feel free of the tedious Country Girls and the chilling Dynmouth child.

Feb 27, 11:46pm Top

>49 m.belljackson: Under 5 Eur, under 250 pages, bought and downloaded, thank you! :)

Edited: Feb 28, 7:05am Top

I'm going to have to dig out a Deirdre Madden as I'm responsible for her being on the list....

Feb 28, 7:47am Top

I've ordered Thanks for Telling Me, Emily. Sounds like a lovely children book which I'll be reading to my pupils.

Edited: Feb 28, 9:02am Top

>51 Caroline_McElwee: Knox County library owns a copy of one book by Madden, but I'm not sure it's the one I wish to read, and I'm not sure I'm heading that way anytime soon to pick it up (about 45 minutes west to nearest branch from home). I'll probably see what looks good and order it unless the person who teaches Irish literature on campus owns something by her that sounds interesting.

ETA: Our Irish lit prof owns three of her works. He's going to let me borrow one. Guess I'll see which one I walk away from his office holding.

Feb 28, 8:18pm Top

I finished Love and Summer So sad and so beautiful, full of weak, flawed characters; tragic choices.

"The events of that day had not receded for Miss Connulty. Her cruelty to the dead was their ceremonial preservation; the time for pain was over, yet her wish was that it should not be, that there should always be something left - a wince, a tremor, some part of her anger that was not satisfied."

Feb 28, 8:19pm Top

>46 jessibud2: Thank you! Great interview!!!

Feb 28, 9:51pm Top

I ended up snagging The Birds of the Innocent Wood. Our Irish literature professor wrote a piece on Madden for a reference volume back in the early 1990s and provided me a copy of his piece. He's quite impressed with our list of authors for the year. He was surprised Madden made the list since she lacks an American publisher. I told him I'd been prepared to order one from Book Depository if he didn't have one I could borrow.

Edited: Mar 1, 11:36am Top

So, I finished William Trevor's short fiction collection, A Bit on the Side, for February. The stories were fairly uniformly good, if sad and fatalistic for the most part. But that's what I expect from Irish literature. There is usually a good laugh or two in it, though, and I really only found one of the characters in this collection amusing. Still, I certainly will read more of Trevor, as I have several of his books on the shelf.

I don't think I'll be reading Deirdre Madden this month. I don't have anything of hers on hand. I read her One By One in the Darkness last year, and rated it 3 1/2 stars. The story was good, but I thought the author a bit too evident in some of the technique.

Mar 3, 3:51pm Top

My Madden read was Snakes' Elbows, which I think might be the strangest children's book I've ever read. I mean, how many children's books have an arms dealer as a major character? I liked it, but it's definitely an odd one.

Mar 3, 3:56pm Top

I've never read her children's books Amanda. Glad it was at least quirky.

Mar 5, 9:40am Top

>49 m.belljackson: Read it over the weekend and really liked it, thank you again! :)

Mar 23, 12:05pm Top

>38 laytonwoman3rd: >42 majleavy:

Circle of Friends was definitely one I didn't want to end - so great to have this to look forward to every night!

I'll follow up later in the year with others. Thank you both.

Mar 23, 12:08pm Top

From online Atlas Obscura:

"In 1847, the Choctaw people donated money to Irish famine relief.
This act of generosity sparked a 171-year old bond between the two peoples."

Mar 25, 1:44am Top

For February I read selections from The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories edited by William Trevor.

I read Trevor's Introduction, the Irish folk tales that he selected and Trevor's own story contribution, "Death In Jerusalem." (I suppose if you edit the volume, you can choose your own work!) It is about 2 very different brothers.

For March I read Deirdre Madden's Molly Fox's Birthday. It is a novel about one day in the life of an unnamed narrator, and her musings on life, love and friendships. Also features 2 very different brothers (is this an Irish theme?). The book had some fine parts and themes, but occasionally dragged and felt repetitive. I would have loved it 20 years ago; my older self not so much.

Mar 25, 7:08pm Top

For April, I've chosen Samuel Beckett's THE END, sure to be a cheerful uplifting inspiration.

Apr 2, 2:38am Top

As you all can see I haven't put up individual threads for each month for the Irish Author Challenge so all comments here please!

Samuel Beckett this month.

Apr 2, 9:17am Top

I put a stack of Beckett books by my desk at work. All are fairly short. One is a collection of his poems; one is a play; one is a short story collection; and I think there is another. I thought I'd try to read at least one--and maybe more during my lunch break (or supper break). Since it's poetry month, I'll likely start with the poems.

Apr 3, 6:40am Top

Started Molloy a week ago and hope to find more time for it, now that the remaining March-must-reads are out of the way. I'm about 25% in and like it, but absolutely can't say why. :)

Apr 4, 6:46pm Top

I read Waiting for Godot on Sunday. It probably says something about me that I chose a work about waiting for a guy who never shows up to read on Easter. Anyway, I liked it even though I can't claim to understand it.

Apr 4, 10:16pm Top

>68 amanda4242: That was my first choice to read, but both of our library's copies are MIA. That work is assigned in one of the classes, and some students apparently snuck them out of the library. I guess we'll need to purchase replacements. I tagged them to go through the missing book search process, but I suspect they are gone. I read a poetry collection first, the play Endgame next, and I've got a collection of his short stories on the desk at work to read during lunch. I'm hoping I like the stories better than the others.

Apr 4, 10:50pm Top

>69 thornton37814: Why steal books from the library when they could just check them out?!

Apr 5, 8:18am Top

>70 amanda4242: They may think they have a big fine which prevents books being checked out, but this year, we're really only charging fines if books are not returned. If they return them, we usually waive the fine. Others may have forgotten their student ID. Still others want their own copy without paying for it.

Apr 5, 3:06pm Top

THE END will take you deep into the mind of a dying, depressed, and homeless man,
inspiring readers to consider their own paths and to help those who are lost.

Apr 10, 5:00am Top

Well, I didn't expect this one to be easy, I don't know yet if I'll manage a second one this month. 3/4 through Molloy, and yes, I like it, but it's not a book for busy times when you can read only 2-3 pages before RL interferes.

Apr 14, 1:07pm Top

I may be able to squeeze in one of the plays by month end. RL is keeping me very preoccupied at the moment.

May 1, 9:01pm Top

It's IRISH CRIME WRITERS for May. Who has recommendations? (I've read all of Tana French.)

May 1, 10:16pm Top

>75 laytonwoman3rd: I listened to an Adrian McKinty audiobook Falling Glass several years ago on a car trip - I seem to have neglected marking it off when I did. It was dark and a little more gritty/violent than I prefer, but a lot of stuff is. I thought it pretty good overall. Good beginning to hook you in.

May 2, 1:35pm Top

Part A. Almost alone among LT readers, I have no interest in Crime novels or non-fiction.

Yes, I still read Sherlock Holmes, early Nevada Barr, and the Hillermans
and long ago read In Cold Blood, The Silence of the Lambs, and a few others.
That was more than enough - the never-ending image of the woman in a dark hole
saved only because she said she would murder her captor's dog is still horrible and haunting.

Worse still are the daily real life news reports of brutal, gruesome, and violent torture and murder.

I seek no more negativity on my mind and spirit, wishing to have peaceful dreams.

To fulfill this Irish Crime challenge, I read Maeve Binchy's CIRCLE OF FRIENDS, which does include the mystery of the ending!

May 2, 1:49pm Top

Part B. Then, on March 22, this review came up on The Bookpage Page-a-Day:

"If the prospect of reading MOBY DICK is a little daunting, here's an alternative whale-hunting yarn-
a brilliant mystery set on a 19th-century whaling ship. The VOLUNTEER is bound for the Arctic, and
the conditions in the far north are anything but hospitable.

The shipmates have more than just survival to worry about, though, there's a murderer on board.
In her review for THE NEW YORK TIMES, Michiko Kakutani called THE NORTH WATER
"a great white shark of a book - swift, terrifying, relentless, and unstoppable."

So, eventually this mystery by Irish Ian McGuire arrived from abe.com!

Dear gods - what a contrast with Maeve Binchy!

If books starting off with stinking whored fingers, smelly pee pee, unredeemable drunks, and yet another excuse for
a white man to seamlessly circumvent political correctness sentiments with the n-word is your cup of Irish tea or whisky,
this is your book.

Three pages in and it gets Pearled to my recycling path - I don't want a kid or anyone to see this.

May 2, 2:14pm Top

>78 m.belljackson: Thank you for that warning. I've already joined the club that agrees with you that there is so much violence in our world and daily news that it is the last thing I want to read about. It can be done well, but there seems to be a glorification of violence in some books that just repels me immensely. So, I mostly avoid crime fiction.

May 4, 5:26pm Top

>78 m.belljackson: Three pages in and it gets Pearled to my recycling path - I don't want a kid or anyone to see this. I’ve not read it myself, but my husband thought that The North Water was wonderful and recommended it to my son yesterday ...

May 4, 6:15pm Top

>80 SandDune:

LT very fortunately offers a lot of variation in personal book tastes!

May 4, 6:28pm Top

I've picked up one of Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor books, The Guards, from the library. I liked the movies so I thought I'd give the books a try.

May 5, 3:18am Top

>81 m.belljackson: Too true! To be honest Mr SandDune and myself rarely like the same books anyway.

May 5, 10:28pm Top

>83 SandDune:

And, it would surprise me if you ENJOYED the first three pages...

May 6, 12:32am Top

Sorry guys but I adored The North Water.

I was asked to recommend a few books for the month of Irish thrillers and crime writing.


Stuart Neville
Ken Bruen
Brian McGilloway
Tana French

I am going to read two, I reckon.

Resurrection Man by Eoin MacNamee


Little Criminals by Gene Kerrigan

Edited: May 6, 12:07pm Top

>85 PaulCranswick:

Maybe "guys" accounts for it...?

May 8, 2:33pm Top

I've finished The Guards and wasn't exactly wowed by it. Bruen's style is disjointed and he keeps inserting all these short lists. Weird and not really to my taste.

May 10, 8:21pm Top

>75 laytonwoman3rd: This is the list from the planning thread for the challenge back in November 2017:

Alex Barclay
Colin Bateman
Benjamin Black (actually a nom-de-plume for John Banville)
Ken Bruen
Declan Burke
John Connolly
Tana French
Alan Glynn
Erin Hart
Declan Hughes
Arlene Hunt
Gene Kerrigan
Brian McGilloway
Adrian McKinty
Eoin McNamee
Stuart Neville
Liz Nugent
Julie Parsons
Louise Phillips
William Ryan

Edited: May 15, 2:42pm Top

Yet another reason why I hate most crime books = BLOOD WILL OUT by Jo Treggiari (Penguin TEEN Canada).

This wonderful book recreates THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS for Young Adults.

At least it's not Irish!

May 14, 6:16pm Top

>89 m.belljackson: WTF?! Granted, I read Silence of the Lambs as a teen, but even I think having a similar book target at a teen audience is messed up.

May 15, 5:13pm Top

>90 amanda4242:

So far requested by 570 LT reviewers...

May 24, 2:27pm Top

I read Bruen's The Killing of the Tinkers last night and was again underwhelmed by his writing. I think I'll stick to the movie versions.

I've requested Anne Enright's Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood from the library for next month. Not my usual reading, but since her fiction is frequently tagged with abuse, adultery, alcoholism, death, sexual abuse, and suicide I thought I'd try her one non-fiction work and hope it's not a downer.

May 24, 8:14pm Top

>86 m.belljackson: Oops yes, Marianne. Thank you for picking me up on that. Slapped hands well and truly deserved. xx

Edited: May 26, 8:50pm Top

>93 PaulCranswick:

Hey, Paul!

Your "guys" word usage was no problem since it's one I use for as many fluid genders as there now are.

It referred to the likely choice of an audience for this dreadful crawling piece of d---.

Noting that I also gave up on Ulysses after the nose thing and on Hemingway after the bullfight worships.

May 26, 6:19pm Top

I am not much of a crime reader, and so skipped this month. But I have to say that I did read North Water last year. I don't think I liked it as well as Paul did, but I thought it was pretty good.

May 31, 2:05pm Top

Reading THE GATHERING by Anne Enright for June.

Touchstone won't bring up the title though it is reviewed here.

May 31, 5:01pm Top

>96 m.belljackson: The Gathering Here's the title with touchstone. They were acting up earlier.

Jun 2, 1:05am Top

This is the occasion to finally get to The Gathering, the only one of the more recent Booker winners I haven't read yet. Got it as audio and it starts quite well, though I see much name confusion coming my way, it's a huge family she's writing about.

Jun 2, 3:46am Top

I'm reading The Gathering too - I have a feeling the trauma of it may start to get to me though. The commentary on painful family dynamics is definitely affecting.

Edited: Jun 2, 9:06am Top

Don't know if I'll manage an Enright this month. I don't have any of her books on hand, and I'm swamped with "must reads" (my OWN musts) right now. I will be very interested in what others read and say about it, though. I'm not yet familiar with her work.

Jun 5, 8:42pm Top

Change of plans: I forgot I read The Green Road when it came out in 2015. When I read my review, I don't want to re-read it. I hate this because it also fit both the "g" and "r" for the AlphaKIT challenge this month. The Gathering is available in audiobook from my public library so I downloaded it to listen to on my way to and from the conference this week. It won a Booker Prize, but its ratings are a little low, so I'm not sure what to expect.

Edited: Jun 6, 5:20pm Top

>101 thornton37814:

My rating for The Gathering was a 2.

Jun 6, 12:11pm Top

My rating for The Gathering was barely a 2: the piling on of depressive images could not offset Enright's good writing.

Jun 6, 1:51pm Top

>102 m.belljackson: >103 m.belljackson: Well, it's about the only option I have at the moment unless I purchase one. Knox County library has some print copies of a few of her other works, but I am not heading into Knoxville this week and will be gone to a conference next week. I'll give it a try. If it is unbearable, I'll abandon it and try to get a print book after I return. I do have some AudioSync books to which I can listen if it doesn't work out.

Jun 6, 5:23pm Top

>104 thornton37814:

No idea how I ended up with 2 posts since I went back and clicked Edit on the first one.

Hope you find it a better read. Others have appreciated the depth and insights.

Edited: Jun 9, 1:50am Top

Actually, I quite liked The Gathering, a bit more than The Green Road. The audio format might have helped, there was actual singing! I read 3 others from that year's shortlist and can't say which one I'd have chosen, all good, none of them exceptionally so. I like Enright's writing and her insights and often felt a personal connection, but I thought in the end it wasn't such a great story. I'm getting a bit weary with novels about large Irish families, convoluted sexuality and religion (guilt) and alcohol abuse. It feels like there have been so many of those on the Booker lists and the 1001 list.
For most of the book I didn't know what all the Ada stuff was about, but it served the purpose to show how wobbly and blurry memories become. What was real, what was imagination? I didn't buy the "this is the reason for Liam's misery" story, he was different from the start it seemed, and might have gone down that road anyway. Glad I got this one checked off in a month with so far no other reading.

Jun 9, 8:15pm Top

>106 Deern: I'm encouraged since I'll be listening tomorrow en route to my conference.

Jun 20, 10:34pm Top

I finished Enright's Making Babies, a wry and sometimes touching collection of essays on motherhood/parenting. Not a subject I'm particularly interested in, but I enjoyed it.

Jul 6, 12:27pm Top

I read Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary, which was a bore. I've picked up House of Names from the library and will give that a try later this month.

Jul 6, 1:31pm Top

>109 amanda4242: The Testament of Mary didn't ring my bells either. But I enjoyed The Blackwater Lightship and Brooklyn, so Toibin is worth a second shot. I'm going to finally get around to The Master this month.

Edited: Jul 6, 4:48pm Top

Today, for Colm Toibin, Henry James and THE MASTER, Touchstone yields no results.

Even for those readers for whom Henry James is definitely not The Master, Colm Toibin's
insights into his personality, passive behaviors, and precise, calculating expression of emotions
illuminate the often solitary life of an author. Unfortunately, the pace of the book also often veers
into belabored as it considers, as does James, almost every conceivable angle of consideration
of many boring and tedious rich people's concerns.

Death pervades much of the mood and readers may wish that young Henry had stayed with the beloved
and dying cousin who loved him above all else rather than taking off on a pleasure trip to Rome,
consoling her with highlights of all the fun he was having. It further would have been welcome if the
well off James family had not made this dependent girl feel "penniless" and with no prospects,
hastening her decline.

I slogged through because I had sent for this book to fulfill this month's Irish challenge and was
near catatonic until brother William James came to Rye and spoke his mind!

Henry James wrote some great and lively travelogue commentary, yet his novels feel wrenching,
stilted, and brimming with repressed thoughts, feelings, and action. This book reflects all that.

Edited: Jul 7, 10:26pm Top

>109 amanda4242:,>110 laytonwoman3rd: I just looked at my review of Testament of Mary. i read it in 2013 and Iliked it and gave it 4.5 stars which is a pretty high rating for me. . Maybe it's time for me to read more Toibin. I just finished Boyne's The Heart's Invisible Furies and I really liked it too. He will have a new book published in Aug. A ladder to the Sky.

Jul 7, 9:06am Top

I loved Tóibín's 'The Master', must be due a reread.

Edited: Jul 19, 8:32pm Top

I started my August reading with Molly Keane in TIME AFTER TIME.

Hoping for the promised Irish wit, on page 2, I found this:

Cats were the scavengers.
Cardboard wine cases that had carried more groceries than wine to the house
were piled and heaped and thrown in corners.
Cats had their kittens in them - mostly born to be drowned.

Since this isn't my idea of humor, I instead read THE SPRINGS OF AFFECTION: Stories of Dublin
by Maeve Brennan
and got one good laugh from Mr. Derdon amidst the creepy and deceptive manipulations of his wife
with their son. Not a favorite collection. Back to James Joyce and his stories.

Edited: Jul 22, 1:49pm Top

I wanted to read The Master, but I really don't have the head for a Tiobin this month. I'll postpone it and check Molly Keane instead.

>114 m.belljackson: Maybe not those two though...

Edit 22/07: Got The Master as audio today and got through the first of 12 chapters today. So far great narration and easier to follow than I feared.

Jul 28, 10:17am Top

Finished and surprisingly quite loved The Master, except for some lenghts in the middle. I would have liked it considerably less as paper copy and probably would have skim-read large parts, but the audio was perfect and I'm seriously considering reading/rereading some Henry James later this year with a new understanding. Maye better in audio format as well.

All set for August, I got "Treasure Hunt".

Jul 28, 10:44am Top

I will not get to The Master this month, because I forgot I had semi-committed to reading Bridge of Sighs along with my daughter before her early August RL book club meeting. I am determined to get to it before this year is over, though. I have Molly Keane's Taking Chances on deck.

Jul 28, 11:12am Top

>116 Deern:

Looking forward to hearing that Treasure Hunt holds more fun than Time after Time!

Aug 3, 4:01pm Top

I moved ahead to September and Roddy Doyle, whom I've never read.

BRILLIANT began with a unique and surprising premise,
yet it would amaze me it any kid would not get totally bored by the endless plot repetitions.

Can anyone recommend a different Doyle?

Aug 12, 10:45pm Top

I loved Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha, Ha...a bit strange, but wonderful.

Edited: Aug 13, 5:42am Top

>118 m.belljackson: Finished it! It's a play turned into novel, and it's quite obvious, extensive set descriptions and stage directions turned into narrative and overall quite theatrical. I loved the first part, it really made me laugh, then it turns quite silly and towards the end I lost my patience with half of the characters. But not a bad first impression, and I needed something light and easy last week.

Edited: Aug 13, 3:54pm Top

The only Molly Keane book at my library is Young Entry so that's the one I'll read.

ETA: I discovered we also have Devoted Ladies and Taking Chances under the name M. J. Farrell. Since the one I already checked out is rated highest, I'll go with it.

Aug 14, 9:29am Top

>122 thornton37814: I'm close to the end of Taking Chances, and every time I pick it up I seriously consider abandoning it. I'm not the least bit impressed. I don't think I'll read any more of Farrell/Keane, unless someone raves about something here.

Aug 14, 11:56am Top

>122 thornton37814: I'm glad I didn't choose that one then.

Aug 17, 1:40pm Top

I enjoyed Young Entry. It's a coming-of-age novel set against a background of Anglo-Irish aristocracy with horses, hounds, and fox hunts.

Aug 22, 1:58pm Top

Yeats will be my choice for September "Poets and Playwrights."

I've started with the few included in ANDREWS AND PERCIVAL's VICTORIAN POETRY
to see which ones were chosen as representative, then back to my well-loved Collected Poems by W.B. Yeats.

Also, I'm still curious about a mention that Ezra Pound was Yeats mentor for a few years since it seems
that it would have been the reverse...?
Insights welcome on this.

Aug 22, 4:05pm Top

>126 m.belljackson: I thought Roddy Doyle was September and "Poets and Playwrights" was October.

Aug 22, 5:29pm Top

>127 thornton37814:

Yep, you are absolutely correct!

Since I finished Doyle early, I'm a month too soon,
yet will need that time to get through ALL the Yeats.

I just read a strange fairie play, The Land of Heart's Desire, among his Victorian writings.
Thomas Hardy's Sue Bridehead would enjoy the company of the main character, Maire Bruin.
Their husbands would not.

Edited: Aug 22, 6:45pm Top

>126 m.belljackson: Interesting you mention the relationship between Yeats and Pound, as I just read a reference to the three winters they lived together in the book I'm reading, As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds and Books by Alex Preston. Here is an article that explores the dynamics between the two.

Edited: Aug 27, 4:27pm Top

>129 laytonwoman3rd:

Thank you for this fascinating article!

I'm printing it to read again and save in the back of Yeats Collected Poems.

Does the Kingfishers book give any clues about what inspiration Yeats was getting from Pound?
(aside from their shared goal of 'aristocratic artistry' and Pound's editing claims)

It would also be enlightening to know what Yeats thought about Pound's hatred of Jewish people.

This (Stone House, marriages, aristocrat tendencies, living with Pound...) is all new to me since I knew Yeats mostly through the poems I liked and loved.
Glad the poets didn't end up like Gauguin and Van Gogh.
Writing a beautiful poem featuring a peacock, then eating one, was odd enough.

If I had known that the Pound papers were at my University, I would have searched for them in the 60s.

Do the Kingfishers actually catch on fire?

Aug 31, 10:26pm Top

My August selection was Keane's Good Behaviour. It took me some time to get in to it because the narrator is completely oblivious to the hypocrisy on which her world runs, but it turned into a solid read.

My Roddy Doyle read was Brilliant, in which children combat a giant dog that is causing an epidemic of depression. It's not awful, but it didn't impress me.

Edited: Sep 1, 11:32am Top

>30 RBeffa: I think the "Kingfishers catch fire" reference is meant to invoke the way their feathers capture light and glow. It's from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, which begins:

"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came."

As for the Pound/Yeats connection, Powell's book cites the same incidence of the roasted peacock and notes that Pound, having heard Yeats composing out loud (through the fireplace chimney as noted in the article), incorporated some of what he heard into one of his own poems "Me Peacock". That's pretty much the extent of the discussion there, so no light cast on your other questions.

Sep 1, 1:52pm Top

I should read something Northern Irish, as I'm going there next week.

Sep 6, 11:47pm Top

Reading Paddy Clarke and not happy. While it could be amusing if I were in the mood for "amusing childhood memories", in my current mindset I'm finding it extremely boring. I've been on it for over a week and am only at 60% despite often skimming through scenes. So far I also don't find them special or especially Irish. I feel if I mixed my own memories of the 70s of what we kids did when we were out with my dad's of the 50s, the result would be similar, maybe with less bullying and, being protestant, no communions and confessions though those play just a side role in the book.

Edited: Sep 7, 1:34pm Top

I finished The Woman Who Walked into Doors, and I thought it was brilliantly done.
In the face of her abusive husband's violent death, 39-year-old Paula Spencer mentally processes her life, hoping to make some sense of it, trying to hold on to the illusion of normalcy she has fostered for nearly 20 years. Everything we see takes place in Paula's head; this is stream of consciousness on a very approachable level. As she moves back and forth through her teen years, her early married life and her present circumstances, her perception of reality is challenged, her memories boiling up so that the ones she prefers to suppress keep rising to the surface, confirming some of the reader's suspicions about what she may be hiding from herself, and yet surprising us too with some less obvious conclusions.
I had previously read Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha, Ha and was very impressed with it. It led me to pick up several more of Doyle's books when a local independent bookstore was liquidating its inventory a few years ago.

Sep 29, 2:10pm Top

I've decided to read Wilde's An Ideal Husband for October's poets and playwrights theme.

Sep 29, 7:20pm Top

Well, I'll be! I had no idea this thread existed until today. I've read several Irish writers this year, partly because we were taken to Ireland for a tour guide's week (think baker's dozen) by our older son and his family of Ireland lovers. Before we left, I read Brooklyn by Colm Toibin and TransAtlantic by Colum McCann, both of which I've listed as among the 10 best books I've read this year.

I also finished The Ginger Man by J. P. Donleavy, bringing an end to a hellacious read begun in 1965. (Though Donleavy was born in the U. S., he attended Trinity in Dublin and lived in Ireland most of his life.) I don't recommend it, though I did develop some understanding and appreciation for the novel at the end. The same might be said of Beckett's Malone Dies. That is, if I ever finish it.

While in Ireland, I was given about 10 or 15 minutes—all by myself!—to check out a small bookshop in Cong, County Mayo, where I settled, in a bit of a panic, on The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien and Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann.

Since returning home, I've read the O'Brien and I'm almost through The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle.

Oup. Gotta go.

Sep 29, 7:21pm Top

I've started reading a lot of W.B. Yeats and would love to know anyone's favorites.

Sep 29, 9:55pm Top

>137 weird_O: Okay! I'm finished with the Roddy Doyle.

Today, 12:20am Top

I finally found time to sit down and read An Ideal Husband today. It is, as always, a wonder to behold the way Wilde used the English language.

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