Sunday, July 29, 2007


Five SCC pupils who are about to start on their final year are currently in South Africa building homes for street children under the MylifE banner, and are currently blogging their experiences here. Good luck to Alex Browne, Lewis Mathews, Dave Murphy, Max Shirley and Ed Wilson in this demanding and exciting venture.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cheating at Canasta

Our most distinguished Old Columban author, William Trevor, has just published his 11th book of short stories, Cheating at Canasta. In The Times, Neil Mukherjee writes that :-
True to such maturity and control, the stories are suffused with radiant and effortless majesty; a comprehensive ease of speaking about spaces in the human heart and mind that remains out of reach for most writers (continued here).

In the Literary Review, Cressida Connolly says :-
William Trevor does not flinch from horror and darkness, yet nor does he sensationalise these things. Evil may be inadvertent, or clumsy: it is never elegant or just; or even, of itself, very interesting. Its purpose, in his stories, is to test the moral limits of his characters. What is of interest to him is not the crimes themselves but the way in which they affect, change and damage people. He gives no easy answers. Redemption is not the point; a sort of desperate, unspoken atonement is more likely. Only love is noble, but it lacks the power to save a life. A husband plays cards with his wife, who is in a home, with Alzheimer's: tenderly, he cheats in order to let her win; it is her one remaining pleasure (here).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Yeats Book Crossing

We've previously strongly recommended the outstanding semi-permanent Yeats exhibition at the National Library in Kildare Street. In the words of the website :-

250 anthologies of poetry by WB Yeats were set free in Dublin on Monday, July 9th, 2007, for free public enjoyment by the National Library of Ireland. The books which were left on trains, buses, caf├ęs, pubs, hotels and public spaces throughout the city were distinctively labelled with an invitation to savour the work of the great poet and a request to leave the book in another public place for someone else to enjoy.

Yeats Book Crossing was inspired by the concept of Book Crossing in other countries. It is hoped that the books, which have been specially purchased by the Library for this book crossing initiative, will be enjoyed by people of all ages, will promote a greater engagement with the poetry of WB Yeats and will lead to visits to the Library’s award winning exhibition Yeats: the life and works of William Butler Yeats.

Each of the books is marked with a unique code. Readers can report a sighting and log their comments here on the National Library’s website. This log will in turn become a record of the journey of each of the 250 books as they wander through public spaces in Ireland and abroad.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Long Long Way

A book recommendation : Sebastian Barry's A Long Long Way has been shortlisted for several awards, including the recent IMPAC prize won by Per Petterson and the Man Booker Prize, and this year was chosen for Dublin's One City, One Book scheme.

The field of First World War fiction is by now very swollen, and any writer needs to bring something fresh to it. Barry's book is written through the perspective of his innocent and helpless protagonist, Willie Dunne, a working-class Irish volunteer, and does indeed recapture a powerful sense of horror. Two incidents - a hallucinatory first sight of a mustard gas attack, and Dunne's brief involvement in the Easter Rising - encapsulate the young soldier's bewilderment particularly strongly.

The book was reviewed by Laura Barber in the Observer, there is a useful Penguin study guide with an interview here, and Three Monkeys Online has another interview with the author here, in which he says :-

There have been so many books about other nations at the war, the English in the main obviously. But in Ireland I suspect the matter of the war became merely impersonal, after so long a silence, people not suspecting it had anything to do with them, especially as it hardly registers in any of our school history books. If it was forgotten for real reasons, both good and bad, it became forgotten for no reason at all. But it has been extraordinary to me the numbers of people at readings and in letters that suddenly realise they have this strong connection, and remember they had great uncles or whatever at the war, and are suddenly appalled by what they went through, and, in many cases, suddenly proud, suddenly amazed, suddenly thankful, which is wonderful. The forgetfulness was born out of self censorship perhaps.