An engaging novel that will appeal to a range of readers thanks to Paul Murray’s vast array of skills. The plot is engrossing, the characters are uniq...moreAn engaging novel that will appeal to a range of readers thanks to Paul Murray’s vast array of skills. The plot is engrossing, the characters are unique and layered (Murray’s talent for dialog may be his greatest trait), the themes are insightful (his employment of M-Theory and the myth of the White Goddess throughout the novel are particularly effective), and the prose is, at times, completely stunning. The novel was stretched thin in places (I grew somewhat restless in the middle as some of weaker characters took center stage), and there were definitely times—subject matter aside—that it descended a bit too far into juvenilia (I hate to say it, but there were points where I couldn’t help but feel that I was reading the uncensored version of a Harry Potter tale).
But the quality of the novel as a whole—the result of Murray’s passion, skill, and ambition—more than make up for these weaker bits. Perhaps, most impressive, to me, is Murray’s ability to balance uproarious wit (I laughed aloud many, many times) with utter sadness, especially since he does this in new and unique ways. In other words, Murray's staked his claim and proven that he's up to the task of taking on the Irish novel. Skippy Dies has certainly left its mark, and I'll be eager to see what Murray's got in store for us in the future.(less)
A much needed addition to the *Ulysses* bookshelf, in that *Ulysses and Us* directly confronts the Joyce industry and attempts to reassert Joyce's pop...moreA much needed addition to the *Ulysses* bookshelf, in that *Ulysses and Us* directly confronts the Joyce industry and attempts to reassert Joyce's populist (for lack of a better term) aspirations for the novel--a work that, truly, has a much wider appeal than academia and the Joyce industry would lead us to believe.
For those well acquainted with *Ulysses,* the first couple of chapters will bring the most insight, as Kiberd grapples with how *Ulysses* failed--in terms of Joyce's hope that, at least in some senses, *Ulysses* would have a tremendous and far reaching impact on the whole of society--as well as what significant benefits the text still holds for a wide range of readers now.
For those just embarking on their *Ulysses* journey, the thematic, chapter-by-chapter, "guide to life"-esque breakdown of *Ulysses* that makes up the bulk of Kiberd's text provides great food for thought (I'd highly recommend reading Kiberd's text after finishing the corresponding chapter in *Ulysses*).
All-in-all, this is a great addition to the world of *Ulysses,* as Kiberd convincingly reasserts everyone's ownership of this magnificent work.(less)
"Home was not the place where you were born but the place you created for yourself, where you did not need to explain, where you finally became what y...more"Home was not the place where you were born but the place you created for yourself, where you did not need to explain, where you finally became what you were."
An poignant discourse on the idea of "home," especially in a situation--so intense in Ireland, but resonant everywhere--that one might dub "traumatic," if we take traumatic to gesture at the paralysis that comes from a culture dangerously steeped in its past, too enamored with things that are lost. Foundations crumble and fragmentation ensues, and this is made painfully apparent in Bolger's characters and, impressively, embodied in his narrative structure.
*The Journey Home* is fabulous piece of contemporary Irish fiction. Bolger's predictions for Dublin's future are astoundingly accurate, yet, almost for the opposite reason than he intended, I think. By this I mean that Bolger seemed to dispel the myths of the rolling green hills by portending Ireland's descent into ruin and poverty, which couldn't be farther from the Celtic Tiger we know today. Yet, so many of those caught up in this "new" Ireland seem to have found themselves as marginalized and "homeless" as Bolger feared.
In many ways, Bolger's Dublin is closer to the Dublin I knew than any other literary portrait of the city I've encountered. While my experience was certainly not at all as extreme as Hano's, Katie's, and Shay's--or as melodramatic, which this book can be at times--the gritty, dreary feel of Hibernian urbanity, and the solitude that the cobbled city and deep history of Ireland can spark, is devastatingly affecting in *The Journey Home"--a real testament to Bolger's craft.(less)
It is interesting to see Joyce work within the confines of playwriting, but I found this text inferior to the rest of his body of work. To see Joyce i...moreIt is interesting to see Joyce work within the confines of playwriting, but I found this text inferior to the rest of his body of work. To see Joyce in superior playwright form, seek out the "Circe" episode in *Ulysses.*(less)
Though this book has an obvious agenda (what book doesn't?), *Inventing Ireland* is the most exhaustive yet readable work of criticism on Irish litera...moreThough this book has an obvious agenda (what book doesn't?), *Inventing Ireland* is the most exhaustive yet readable work of criticism on Irish literature that I've come across. I especially recommend it to anyone with postcolonial "tendencies."(less)
Have I finished it? Of course not! Though I did my damndest by starting a *FW* reading group, in which, over the course of a year, we tackled about 70...moreHave I finished it? Of course not! Though I did my damndest by starting a *FW* reading group, in which, over the course of a year, we tackled about 70 pages. I've read fragments throughout since, and, though I realize the pretention latent in the act of including a book I've still not finished on my "favorites" shelf, I do feel that I grasp a lot of the recurring themes and some of what Joyce was getting at. Additionally, there are passages in this book that stand unrivaled by any other book I've read.(less)