Book Thirty Two 2014:
Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer
I grabbed this straight after the lovely Maria Doyle Kennedy’s reading of the first part in Hodges Figgis on European Literature Night last week.
The setup is simple enough – a woman is trying to cancel a subscription by e-mail to a magazine. She mails an address that is one letter out and starts a long running correspondence with the man she accidentally befriends and then becomes something more to…
As with so much I’ve read this year I think I might have never picked this up based in the cover but after having heard the first section I was sufficiently intrigued to hear more (you’d be surprised of the power of a great voice reading text from a novel can have on its ability to leap of the page).
It’s an elongated short story really, an epistolary fable for the 21st century and a warm, interesting, slight diversion that I finished in a day. If you need a little off time from the heavy stuff I’d recommend this.
Only thing that sits strangely with me is that a sequel is due. I thought it ended perfectly…
Book Thirty One 2014:
Questions Of Travel by Michelle de Kretser
So this is book number three after Donal Ryan and Marie NDiaye from this year’s Impac Prize list and all three have been top notch just to differing degrees.
This is based around two very simple but different people, one, middle class and from Australia who ends up in London and working as a travel writer before ending up back in Australia again, the other poor and from Sri Lanka who loops from there to Australia for very different reasons.
Persist with this one. After about 80 pages I was willing to give up, the thing that kept me on board was her sometimes breathtaking language and imagery. As with so many books I seem to stumble across, after 100 pages or so something clicks in my head and her jigsaw started to take shape.
It’s strong in character, internal monologue and well drawn location and incredible in places in language (I actually felt like I’d been to Sri Lanka, Sydney and Naples after I’d read it) but it’s a little long and a touch stretched out towards the end.
Not the best book from the IMPAC list this year but well, well above average and well worth the read.
It’s National Volunteering Week 2014, I was honoured to have been asked by Volunteer Ireland to write something about my work with Epilepsy Ireland over the years…
With embarassing old photos 🙂
You can check it out here.
Last night I was the quizmaster at our twice annual Epilepsy Ireland table quiz.
Always huge fun and Peter from EI who sets the questions is top, top notch at it.
Thought you might like to play? First is name the skyline, second is name the artist…
Two picture rounds below, answers are on the link at the bottom of the page 🙂
And, when you’re ready, the answers are HERE.
Found this on Reddit during the week, I think it deserves to be preserved here for all eternity 🙂
I’ve done more than my fair share of firsts for me over the last couple of years both as part of the job and in the off hours.
As a kid I spent pretty much every Saturday in Easons on O’Connell Street, so being asked to launch a book for a colleague there was a fairly simple “yes”.
It was only a couple of feet over from the spot where I got Douglas Adams to sign my HHGTTG in 1987…
The book is out in shops now and you can see what I thought of it HERE.
I wrote my first ever column for a newspaper this week, in the Irish Independent’s Insider Magazine.
If you missed getting a copy, here it is in all its shiny, stylised glory…
Book Thirty 2014:
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
I’m not reviewing this book.
You need to go out now and buy it, simple as.
The man is a genius of non-fiction observation and I have rarely laughed as much or as hard reading anything. The only thing better than reading him is listening to him reading it live as I did at the National Concert Hall recently.
No, seriously, go out and get a copy. now.
Book Twenty Nine 2014:
The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August by Claire North
Harry August is on his deathbed. a little girl appears at his bedside. It’s the end of his 11th life. A small girl approaches him. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’
See, you’re either one of two people. That has immediately hooked you and you want to read on (in which case move to the next paragraph), or you think that’s nonsense, in which case go away, I don’t like you.
I will, as is my wont, reveal little about the plot of The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August shy to say that it involves a tiny subgroup of humanity who find that when they die first time around, they arrive back at their birth again but with all the memories of their first time around. And their second. And their tenth…
Imagine the limitless possibilities, and the boredom, and the possibility to ruin the future of the human race… which is what happens during one of Harry’s lives.
You might already know Claire North as either Catherine Webb or Kate Griffin, maybe not. As for this first novel under her third pseudonym (as if jealousy doesn’t ooze from my every pore towards someone who has been successful under 2 different names already!) it’s well worth your time.
It rattles along and the concept is both bloody simple and ingeniously complex at the same time. It’s part Back To The Future, part Dr. Who but, as it’s set from the 1910s to the end of the 20th century, mostly historical “What If?” thriller. You do need a smidge of quantum physics and it has some lovely musings on the nature of the finite nature of human life to but that’s always a good thing in my book.
My only real regret here is that she didn’t write us a little more, but that’s a good thing, right?
Maybe next life.