Monday, November 28, 2016

William Trevor

 The most distinguished of all Old Columban writers (indeed, of OCs generally), William Trevor (his real surname was Cox), died last week. In many writings he remembered the College, and in this interview with Mike Murphy as part of John Bowman's RTE Radio archive programme yesterday (starting at 15:12), he reminisced about the College ("a very good school indeed"). More references appear in a novel such as Fools of Fortune, the biographical collection Excursions in the Real World, and in shorter pieces such as 'Leaving School'. He kept up his interest in the school throughout his life.

Worth reading in the press since:

    • Irish writers give their reactions in the Irish Times, including Kevin Barry, Joseph O'Connor and Mary Morrissey.
    • Also in the Irish Times, Denis Sampson on the novel Mrs Eckdorf in O'Neill's Hotel and Eileen Battersby on a 'world-class writer'.
    • In the Guardian, Christina Paterson: "In times like these, art has the power to make us feel less alone."
    • Novelist Anne Enright: "He was, in that no man’s land, completely at home in the English language. He had no need of metaphor; the push in his sentences is towards the apposite phrase and he repeatedly gives the reader the satisfaction of finding it"
    • In the New Yorker, Marisa Silver on 'William Trevor's Quiet Explosions': "How fortunate we are that he looked so carefully—that he found the foibles and hardships and small joys of life infused with equal measures of faith and foreboding, and that he was moved to spend his life telling us about it."
    • An old one: a fine Paris Review interview.

      Wednesday, November 16, 2016

      TY recommendation: Blackman and

      Two more recommendations from reading for the TY Extended Essay:

      Harry Oke-Osanyintolu recommends Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses:

      "This is a great book that changes our rigid thoughts of race discrimination and prejudice, showing that we have lost focus and not identified it as the big problem it is.  It flips our world upside down and transports you to a place you choose not to leave. You watch and view the years go by from the perspective of Callum McGregor and Persephone Hadley. We watch how they struggle to be together even though Callum is a nought and Sephy a cross. They fight an entity that they can't see but is controlling them like puppets, and which tries to tear their lives apart.

      We witness how perception gradually becomes belief, and we watch how they struggle to change this. But of course there are costs to be paid. This book pays close attention to detail, how one conversation in the opening chapters becomes the story years later. It gives you a different perspective."

      Sophia v Wedel recommends John Green's The Fault in our Stars:

      "I would recommend this book because it really touched me. It brought the theme and the characters close to me so I followed them nearby. All the thoughts, feelings and actions of the main characters were natural and authentic to me although I don't know how I would react if I had cancer. What I personally liked the best were the quotes and the poetic phrases in the whole book. They made it perfect and Hazel's sarcasm was also always a good factor to ease the plot. Besides that, John Green's writing style is legendary and everyone who liked other books by him should really read this one. I saw the movie before and although I knew what would happen I could focus well on the book and wasn't bored."

      Tuesday, November 08, 2016

      TY Books: Stockett, Adams

      Transition Year pupils are now writing their Extended Essays, for completion in two weeks. Here are two more commendations:

      Emily Devereux has read The Help by Kathryn Stockett:-
      "It is set in the early 1960s in a suburban neighbourhood in Jackson, Mississippi regarding the social/political scene of the time. This was when racism was dominant in the States and is shown through the eyes of black maids and white housewives. The perspective of the book is from three characters - Minny and Abileen who work as maids, and Miss Skeeter. She is working on a book interviewing black maids on their experiences working for a white household. 

      Faults are exposed on both  sides. Especially it focusses on how the children who Abileen and Minny care for love them then, but will eventually change into their mothers. Mothers who only invested in wealth, status and separation. This novel captured my attention by showing a different view of the equality movement during the 60s rather than from a renowned person such as Martin Luther King. It features ordinary characters who represented the thousands who were being oppressed. The individual experiences create a certain fondness between reader and the characters making it humorous, tragic and exciting and lastly hard to put down."

      Ted Johnson read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams:

      "I found it very funny and intellectual at the same time. It was cleverly plotted, with lots of twists in the story line. There is a wide variety of characters in the book, each with very different personality. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in science fiction or space."