I think he is one of the best Ireland has on offer right now. The man is so good it's hard to imagine how he can get better. Burke writes and reviewsI think he is one of the best Ireland has on offer right now. The man is so good it's hard to imagine how he can get better. Burke writes and reviews crime but this is a whole meal of a read and the tasty bites one savours leave a distinct 'wow! That's really absolute cool!' impression on the mind. A stop to pause and read back to fully explore what the man has just said. In a 'fan' mail I told him he was Jon Banville in reverse: Banville is an accalimed writer of cerebral fiction who writes his crime under the name of Benjamin Black. Burke writes crime but running threads of wit and wisdom in there tell the reader the man has far more going on in his intelligen head than just a crime plot. No formula rethreads here....more
As I read this story in Cyprus, I realised I knew the place. It was as though I was home in Ireland where I grew up by the sea. Banville draws the reaAs I read this story in Cyprus, I realised I knew the place. It was as though I was home in Ireland where I grew up by the sea. Banville draws the reader in with the characters he portrays, leaves you with them and then offers the most exquisite surprise at the end making you wonder why you didn't realise it was that way. Like so many fine craftsmen, he makes the finished result look simple. Yet you know only a master craftsman can accomplish that effect. An engrossing read....more
The reason I'm adding my old beloved books is because I simply can not find time to read new ones as life is hectic right now. I read this collectionThe reason I'm adding my old beloved books is because I simply can not find time to read new ones as life is hectic right now. I read this collection of short stories (for both writer and reader a convenient form in busy lives) a long time ago. I particularly loved The Pearl, but glancing through the title story to remember what beguiled me, I once again found myself in awe of the sheer brilliance of his descriptions of landscape before he leads you into the ordinary, then the tragedy in this story of a bereaved family.
Mishima the man was every bit as deep and interesting as the characters he created. His life, his beliefs, his horrible, botched death as he sought dignity in sepuku, make me wonder what life creates in the creator of such stories, and why so many brilliant writers choose death by their own actions rather than by waiting for some force of nature. The seeds and processes that bring forth the legacy people like Mishima leave behind for lesser mortals like me to marvel at are as fascinating as any thing he wrote.
There was another thought that came from a line that, for me, sums up the amazing culture and sets of paradoxes that have built the complexity of personalities that is Japan. As I read it I thougt of the tsunami last year that did so much damage and the discipline and dignity that was displayed by the nation as a whole in dealing with it.
Japan has a bad WW2 record and before that committed terrible atrocities in China but beside the history of bloodletting and self murder, splitting open a stomach is a thing that needs powerful discipline of spirit and mind,there is the beauty of the artistic culture, the beauty of the tea ceremony, the heartfelt appreciation of blossom in spring.
"Tomoko did not understand how this almost insane grief and this careful attention to detail could exist side by side." That sums up, for me, a lot about what makes Japan, Japanese. Mishima knew his own people very, very well and yet he failed to read the signs and accept them as he tried hard to cling to old ways while most of his fellow Japanese swung towards modernity and the ways of the race that had so brutally defeated them. Perhaps they saw better than this most intelligent of men that to adapt is survival and to do otherwise means failure. They made the right choice as they rose from the ashes of awful death, learned from their victors and thrived. Mishima believed he had also made the right choice but what a loss. There must have been so much more in him to give....more
Doris Lessing was born in what was then Persia in 1919 and later lived in what was then Rhodesia. The title comes from The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot "IDoris Lessing was born in what was then Persia in 1919 and later lived in what was then Rhodesia. The title comes from The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot "In a decayed hole among the mountains in the faint moonlight, the grass is singing."
A woman is murdered and a black man, the houseboy, is accused of her murder. "It was thought he was in search of valuables." a newspaper says. Most turned the page and their thoughts to something - what else could you expect, they thought. But others cut out the tidbit and put it in scrapbooks or between the pages of a book. It was a bad business. To say more would spoil what comes eventually from the story.
Lessing, like most gifted writers, can switch from the ordinary expression of events to the delicious feast of description which lifts the book above the ordinary. Language - a living thing -becomes dated, as in this line - "It was such a lovely, lovely day, with its gusts of perfumed wind, and its gay, glittering sunshine." Gay no longer means what it used to in Ms Lessing's time. But what makes people tick seldom changes. Life places us in situations and sees how we cope with them and what is more thrilling and complex than the emotions that stir people to do things that are out of the ordinary and thus have to confront what they regarded as themselves with a whole new gamut of actions and emotions. Old, yes, but oh, so worthy.
It was another odd piece of serendipity that I had selected this book to put on the pile of favourites to add to this list because a couple of days later, I had a mail from Ethna Viney (author of Dancing to Different Tunes:Sexuality its Misconceptions and Ancient Wars: Sex and Sexuality)who was reading my To Live collection and told me that my writing reminded her of Doris Lessing's. I was delighted, as you can imagine.Added to that pleasing comment she said what she had read in To Live was "a tour de force". I was a happy camper that day....more
I learned about Zorba before I came to live on a Greek island and when I saw the movie with Alan Bates, Irene Papas and Anthony Quinn, it came alive vI learned about Zorba before I came to live on a Greek island and when I saw the movie with Alan Bates, Irene Papas and Anthony Quinn, it came alive very vibrantly. Zorba was a gift of a character but then NK was a brilliant illustrator of character and touched on subjects many considered taboo at that time. I also treasure Freedom & Death. Kazantzakis holds back no punches. It's hard to write about such a good writer. All I can add to more eloquent reviews is that he deserves every good word ever written about him....more
I have to say that although this is impressive, it is not my favourite MC book. I have two ways to store books: ones I love that are on shelves I canI have to say that although this is impressive, it is not my favourite MC book. I have two ways to store books: ones I love that are on shelves I can access and see, and others that serve some function, are kept in a cupboard where I can get at them if I need them. This stays where I can see it because when this writer died, he left a space that could have been filled with so many more wonderful stories.
This title was given me as a gift, so I treasure that thought too, and the story, as always, is gripping once one gets stuck in after a somewhat slow start! Going through the bibliography section at the end of the book was a revelation in itself. His ideas, one feels, are from an insider's aspect and as a scientist, he seemed to adore the research as much as the writing.
The list of books inside is an amazing spectrum of the man's ability to use the highly intelligent, educated brain power he so obviously possessed, and the delight he also he found in writing fantasy adventures such as Jurassic Park, The Lost World and, a particular favourite of mine, Eaters of the Dead. Perhaps that's the title that should be up there.
Why did I like this rather bloody tale of a handsome young Arab who aligns himself to a group of rowdy Vikings (Norsemen) to track down brutal killers more sadistic than they are more than the elegant title above? Perhaps because I have Viking blood somehwere in my veins. They regularly raided by hometown and made off with women as slaves. Some of the names in the town can be traced to Viking origins. And, let's face it, in the movie version Banderas is so easy to watch, he's lovely! Chrichton's writing style varied with subject matter, the 'voice' was always suitable to the subject. He is, I'm sure, missed by those who admired his excellent skills. ...more
I read It a long time ago and have pleasant memories of what it left me with. The three heroes were that - heroic and nasty Magua was a thing out of nI read It a long time ago and have pleasant memories of what it left me with. The three heroes were that - heroic and nasty Magua was a thing out of nightmares sneaky and vicious. I thought Wes Studi was terrific in the Michael Mann film. I'm reading a book on what critics said about this story and how they tore it and its 'tooting' hero to pieces. It is such an intertesting study that I'm starting a blog piece on it. Not easy going as some say, but definitely a tale of the wilderness past and what it meant for people caught up in wars between the great powers of that time and the 'Indian' elements that sided with them. I've always been interested in the culture of the native American and this satisfied a part of that for me. I know it was blood thirsty and there was scalp-taking aplenty but it did have a charm all its own, even if in parts a tad long-winded....more
'Written with a strange, hypnotic simplicity, it tells a story of human endurance against the vast, implacable force of the world with astonishing ski'Written with a strange, hypnotic simplicity, it tells a story of human endurance against the vast, implacable force of the world with astonishing skill.' Colm Toibin (his quote) is one of Ireland's most respected writers and that sums up how I feel too. I have this litte book courtesy of the Irish Independent newspaper, which blessed readers with a series of 'Lifetime Reads' a while back, but my first introduction to it was as a teenager.
Having grown up by the sea in a fishing community, the changing moods of the sea is part of my (intangible) DNA, as it was of those seafaring men who were my ancestors. Some of the tales in my short story collections To Die or not to Die and To Live or not to Live, show just how much its force remains in me even here in the heart fo the central plain of Cyprus, far from the coasts of this island. I could so completely wrap my mind up in the folds of this story. Fishing can be a wasteful process like the men who catch and mutilate sharks for their fins and throw doomed fish back into the sea - waste. Like all the small fish thrown back not allowed to be kept by EU regulations but doomed to die anyway - waste. Like the nets that snare species that should not be caught in them - waste.
One of the first short stories I wrote a long time ago was to do with how man had to harvest under the sea, living there in big bubbles of activity after the earth had been raped so badly there wasn't much left to eat from it. What I loved about Hemingway's story is the old man's respect for his catch and the sadness he made me feel for both man and fish at the end result of his trials. I loved it. No holds barred. He was a man whose mother dressed him as a girl and he spent a great deal of his life trying to do the macho thing. Yet there is understanding and tenderness in what he writes that compliment his 'female' side as well as all the tough elements that proved to himself mostly, that he was a man all the way....more
This book, among the other, shorter, works by this great writer i have on my shelf, stands out in my memory for two reasons: the first is because I reThis book, among the other, shorter, works by this great writer i have on my shelf, stands out in my memory for two reasons: the first is because I read it while sitting at the hospital bedside of my husband, Andreas, who had undergone brain surgery, and on the tube on the way to a friend's home where I was staying. It also gave me the word Weltschmerz, which was to come in pretty useful in the hard years that followed Andreas' death. Steinbeck knew people and gave them to us in ways we could recognise as life shades. The conflicts between the brothers, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, Cathy's unfaithfulness and worse. It gave a picture of small-town life at a time when America was growing up into the nation it would become.
"In human affairs of danger and delicay succesful conclusion is sharply limited by hurry. So often men trip by being in a rush." (Act in haste, repent at leisure.)Steinbeck's gift as a writer was to be able to make his people talk so that the reader can pick up the rhythm and accent in the mind as one reads. A master....more
There are people who write 'misery-lit' and give us exactly that. Frank McCourt came through so much with that special Irish quality that has kept soThere are people who write 'misery-lit' and give us exactly that. Frank McCourt came through so much with that special Irish quality that has kept so many of us from suicide, humour! The Irish often drank to escape the hardship of lives blighted by poverty, and in so many cases, not only in Ireland but world wide, it was the women who had to cope when the men left home. I came across another of his books today 'Teacher Man' while excavating my bookshelves, often dust-neglected due to allergies, in which he describes his life as a teacher in America. A land where many talented Irish people made their fortunes and their reputations. What a credit to his intelligence and his gift that he could share his experiences with the world. Another man might have ended up like his father. I was sad when he died because I so enjoyed the laughter he gave me as I read. He had, I'm sure, a lot more to give had he lived. The special thing for me when reading a book is to know something of the writer, man or woman because what they are, what they evolved from is part of what has allowed them to write, to share. Oddly enough, I did not like the film as much as I liked the book because I felt the grey grimness did not offer the glow of hope around the edges that the book gave out....more
I was given this book by an old friend a long time ago and every time I need to send a message for a wedding, a birth, a death or other event that isI was given this book by an old friend a long time ago and every time I need to send a message for a wedding, a birth, a death or other event that is 'a part of life', I take down this book and I always find timeless wisdom in there. Every writer wants to leave some statement behind that will be of value to future generations, some like this man, were gifted enough to do so. The beauty of it is its simplicity, everyone can understand the words, everyone can find something in there to relate to. When I first left home, still in my teens, my mother gave me a pocket bible and told me,
"When you have a problem just open a page and you will find comfort."
The same can be said for this book. I opened it now as I write and I found
"Deep is your longing for the land of your memories and the dwelling place of your greater desires..."
No single race can claim the one and only great conveor of truth or wisdom. I always remember the line "In my father's house there are many mansions." and I took that to mean we were all meant to be different. There is space for each one of us to find a different aspect of 'truth'. Just as we see the face of the Moon turned towards us, the space beyond ours sees the other side, and it is in the sharing of knowledge, with respect and tolerance, that we become one, not in each trying to be better than the other....more
My mother was a Tipperary McCarthy, so the sentimental name link is there. This book was a harrowing journey, at times frustrating, at times gut-kickiMy mother was a Tipperary McCarthy, so the sentimental name link is there. This book was a harrowing journey, at times frustrating, at times gut-kickingly scary. Any single parent can appreciate what this man goes through for his child. What amazed me was the ways in which the author managed, in spite of the desolation of their surroundings, to find ways to rattle the reader with surprises. Raising a child alone brings out the tiger's teeth in a loving parent, one risks all, gives all. The father's need to find as secure a life as he can for his offspring,(I don't want to spoil the end)sees him willing to sacrifice everything. The end pulled the heart out of me, but resolution is there. A master craftsman at work delivering a perfect object of his labours. ...more
I have Muslim friends who are nice, ordinary, everyday people who just want to make a good life for themselves and their families. I stayed in a JewisI have Muslim friends who are nice, ordinary, everyday people who just want to make a good life for themselves and their families. I stayed in a Jewish household many years ago and when the matriarch asked me if my (Roman Catholic) mother had raised any objections, I told her it never came up. What I learned growing up is take people as you find them. On the site where I found this very old friend, there are many books by Jewish writers and on Holocaust themes. Two of which bear Irish surnames. I take people for their characters, not for their religions. If any religion or faith or belief is worth its weight, its first lesson should be tolerance. There will always be the fanatics and the moderates in all races and creeds.
Anne became my friend when my sister gave me her 'diaries' to read. Anne and I were then of an age and all her emerging teen emotions were so easy to recognise. From that point, I started a diary to her, telling her all my little secrets and problems. She may, in fact, be partly responsible for my now shoving my stories at the world.
It was a sad burden to know that such a promising writer would never live to give the world her gifts but would die in desolation because one set of human beings judged another set to be lesser beings. We all need to remember that we are equal to begin with, we emerge from the womb naked, we die making that journey to truth alone. What we offer the world in between living and dying shows how much we respect the right of others to be different. That photograph is like a treasured one from an old album. I wish she had lived but even in death, look what she has given the written word. Colette
Poet Carol Ann Duffy described this book of poetry as "vivid, sensual and technically brilliant". I wholeheartedly agree. Dorgan knows his Greeks oldPoet Carol Ann Duffy described this book of poetry as "vivid, sensual and technically brilliant". I wholeheartedly agree. Dorgan knows his Greeks old and modern. I was searching for books I enjoyed and that gave me more than just a good read and I found this on my shelf and went through it again. The man is not only a talented writer, but he is also a man of the sea, like many of the Greeks he writes about. He has the gift of combining the earth and the sea in waves and breezes of knowledge articulated into layman's language. "I am a mast and a green boat, I am the sea and the ships' course, I am the snake a boat inscribes on water." "To lie naked under the sun beside the sea, how simple and beautiful that is. I feel the thought turn over in your mind, a catspaw breeze cuffing the olives behind us. We are so close."
The beauty of good writing for me as a person who writes, is to find another writer whose words give me an almost tangible flavour to savour in the part of our brain that delights in new experiences. Thank teh forces of inspiration that Ireland has so many gifted people on and off ehr shores....more
Lara Marlowe looks like a painting by Modigliani and has the meticulously paced skills of the experienced and well-polished journalist. I knew her worLara Marlowe looks like a painting by Modigliani and has the meticulously paced skills of the experienced and well-polished journalist. I knew her work from The Irish Times before I had the book and greatly admired her accounts and her fearless honesty. She can walk with kings without losing the common touch, equally at home sitting interviewing the famous and the glamorous, such as Carla Bruni, as she is with walking through some of the worst war zones of the world. The book from end to end is a pure illustration of how different and divided the world in which we live really is and how much we owe to those who provide us with insights into realms we would not dare to enter ourselves....more