I started this blog largely as a space to write about one of my main passions: books.
However, although they are one of the main things that bring me joy, I decided against categorising this blog as a book blog; I wanted to leave myself the space and flexibility to post about the many things that I feel can bring fulfillment in life.
All this having been said, anyone who decides to visit this blog is most likely to find me reflecting on books. One of the silver linings of a highly restricted year is that I have finally made a return to more regular reading, the way I used to years ago. While I am enjoying keeping my eyes on current publications, I am also returning to some old favourites.
I am currently reading A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa. This is unlike anything I have ever read, and grips you from the start. This is Ní Ghríofa’s first prose novel, poetry being her primary focus before this, and the result is that the novel lies somewhere in between; many of the passages are rhythmic, lilting, in a way that carries us beyond the realms of standard prose. The story moves fluidly between the lives of a modern day young mother and a 1700s noblewoman, as stories and worlds become intertwined.
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami has been one of my favourite books since the day I first picked it up, around 20 years ago; I couldn’t even say if it’s still my favourite of his books, now that I have read so many, but it was so ground-breaking for me at the time, that its impact remains with me. It follows the protagonist on a madcap escapade, where a somewhat familiar world begins to blend with one far beyond the grasp of reality.
John Banville has for a long time been one of my favourite Irish writers and, for me, Eclipse is a prime example of him at his best. This novel follows the journey of a man, haunted by his past, and fearful of his future; joining him on his journey we get a painful glimpse into the complexity of the human psyche. As always, so beautifully and lyrically written; Banville takes the most flawed of people, the ugliest of truths, and makes something beautiful of them.
I first came across Margaret Atwood when her novella The Penelopiad was distributed with one of our national newspapers as part of a literary supplement series. I was immediately gripped, and spent subsequent years devouring everything I could by her. Her writing is sharp, witty in the bleak worlds she often presents, hugely imaginative; when I saw her giving a public talk a few years back, it was no surprise to discover these are all character traits in her life outside her books as well. What a woman! She has so many good books but the one I have lined up next is The Heart Goes Last for all its capriciousness, imagining a futuristic world, in a highly advance stated of science and technology, where our protagonist makes a pact with the devil of sorts, in search of a better life.
Last but not least, John Patrick McHugh’s Pure Gold has just been released to great acclaim. I always love a good short story, so I’m excited to see what all the fuss is about. This collection of short stories is set on an imagined island off the west coast of Ireland, already setting us up for the potential of a host of different characters jostling for room in a small-town set up.
I’m looking forward to getting my nose stuck into all these, and sharing my thoughts with you.