You have to be really dedicated readers to spend time inside on a day like today — but we are. This was the discussion featuring Irish authors and books about Ireland or books that brushed against Ireland lightly. And when readers get together the talk about books often strays off in other directions. One of the terms that came up frequently in talking about these books was DARK – many of them are very dark – which led to us pondering what impact location and weather has on writers (Scandinavia was mentioned) as well as economic circumstances. So does anyone have a light funny Irish book to recommend?
Here are some of the books we read
The Gathering by Ann Enright – a booker Prize winner – story of an Irish family but a bit stream of consciousness – well written but not recommended as a book the reader loved.
The Lilac Bus by Maeve Binchy – young people from Dublin head back each week to their Irish village where family histories are shared and scandals don’t stay secret for long.
Edna O’Brien’s books and stories were mentioned but not a specific title.
The Infinities by John Banville – On a languid midsummer’s day in the countryside, the Godley family gathers at the bedside of Adam, a renowned mathematician and their patriarch. But they are not alone in their vigil. Around them hovers a clan of mischievous immortals—Zeus, Pan, and Hermes among them —who begin to stir up trouble for the Godleys, to sometimes wildly unintended effect.
The Sea by John Banville – The Sea – Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child to cope with the recent loss of his wife. It is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time.
(he also writes mystery/thrillers under the name Benjamin Black – Christine Falls is one of his early titles under this name)
John Boyne – A History of Loneliness – The riveting narrative of an honorable Irish priest who finds the church collapsing around him at a pivotal moment in its history
and The Absolutist – A masterfully told tale of passion, jealousy, heroism and betrayal set in the gruesome trenches of World War I.
A Star of the Sea – Joseph O’Connor – In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by famine and injustice, the Star of the Sea sets sail for NewYork. On board are hundreds of refugees, some optimistic, many more desperate. Among them are a maid with a devastating secret, the bankrupt Lord Merridith, his wife and children, and a killer stalking the decks, hungry for the vengeance that will bring absolution.
Picture of Dorian Gray – by Oscar Wilde – check out the portrait in the attic
Column McCann Let the Great World Spin – Let the Great World Spin (the title comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson, riffing on themes in old Arabic poetry) is again set in New York, and much of its action takes place on a day in August 1974. Early that morning — in real life, not just this novel — a Frenchman named Philippe Petit used a bow and arrow to sling into place a cable uniting the giant Twin Towers of the recently built World Trade Center. Then, unbelievably, he walked across this cable.
and Dancer Dancer wove its wide research into the intimately imagined story of Rudolf Nureyev, the driven ballet genius born into Soviet poverty.
Other authors mentioned included William Trevor (Felicia’s Journey), Sebastian Barry(The Sacred Scripture), Katherine Webber (The Music Lesson) and Colin Toibin (Brooklyn)
The bus leaves today for Israel – please plan to join us on December 1 when we will look at Israel – past and present (maybe even future if anyone can find that).