Title: The Heart's Invisible Furies
Author: John Boyne
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Keywords: fiction, gay, irish
Reading period: 30 October, 2018
Before I begin to describe The Heart's Invisible Furies
with abundant spoilers, let me say two things.
Despite what I describe below, the book is very funny,
as Cyril recounts his frequent fuckups.
You would never know,
from reading the back cover or the excerpted reviews inside,
that Cyril is gay.
Yet Cyril's sexuality is the central theme of the book.
I can only assume that this is a marketing decision,
with which I strongly disagree.
16-year-old Catherine is forced out of her Cork village by the parish …continue.
Title: The Dead
Author: Ingrid Black
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Keywords: mystery, noir
Reading period: 2 April–3 June, 2016
At the end of March, I read an article in the Irish Independent,
The girl who stole my book,
about a blatant case of plagiarism.
A Kindle All Star author by the name of Joanne Clancy
had taken two books written by Ingrid Black a decade earlier,
and rewritten them in her own words,
changing the names and adjectives
but preserving the plot.
Eilis O'Hanlon, one half of the pseudonymous duo behind Ingrid Black,
only found out about the plagiarism by accident,
thanks to a tweet from a sharp-eyed …continue.
There was supposed to be a second showing of The Queen of Ireland documentary
this morning at the SIFF Uptown,
preceded by a panel discussion on Marriage Equality.
We attended the discussion,
which was moderated by Phil Grant, the Consul General of Ireland.
The three panelists were
Rory O'Neill, aka Panti Bliss, out of drag,
the accidental activist who became the face of marriage equality in Ireland;
Mayor Ed Murray, an Irish-American and Washington state's best-known gay politician;
and Gary Gates, an LGBT demographer, married to an Irishman,
who advised the Irish campaigners.
I have a strong interest in marriage equality,
going back more than 20 years—I was wearing a HERMP shirt …continue.
Boing Boing posted Irish slave myths debunked,
a link to the work of Liam Hogan.
The indentured servitude that brought many Irish people to the Americas
could be very harsh, but it wasn't slavery.
Slavery was brutal and often murderous,
the children of slaves were themselves slaves,
and the aftermath continues to affect their descendants even now.
Title: The Belfast Connection
Author: Milton Bass
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: New American Library
Reading period: 14–17 February, 2016
San Diego cop Benny Freedman decides to meet his Belfast relatives for the first time.
They disowned his Catholic mother decades ago when she married his Jewish father.
It turns out that her siblings are still unrepentant bigots,
but he finds himself drawn to two of his cousins,
pretty young Catherine Callahan
and Brendan O'Malley, a poet whose brother Sean has just been murdered.
Cousin Benny finds himself drawn into internecine feuding between the IRA and the INLA,
as well as skirmishes against the British Army and …continue.
I visited a faux-Irish bar this evening
where both three-leaved and four-leaved shamrocks were found in abundance.
The reason why shamrocks are associated with Ireland
is that our patron saint, St. Patrick,
used the three-leaved plant
as a metaphor for the Divine Trinity,
the three gods in one,
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
(The Irish usually refer to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost.
I spent ages 7–18 at St. Mary's College CSSp in Dublin,
which is run by the Holy Ghost Fathers.)
A four-leaf clover is considered lucky because it is rare.
It may be lucky but it is not a shamrock.
I woke up this morning to the news that
Ireland's referendum on Marriage Equality
looked set to pass with a strong majority.
Tears began running down my face as I read the reports
of constituency after constituency voted "Yes".
I'm crying again as I write this.
When I was growing up as a bisexual teenager in Dublin
in the late 1970s and early '80s—out to no-one but myself—it was hard to imagine a day like this.
Hardly anyone then had the fortitude to live openly as gay,
if they could pass for straight.
Queers and pansies and poofs were objects of derision and occasional violence.
It wasn't until after I emigrated
Title: A Death in Summer
Author: Benjamin Black
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Keywords: mystery, historical, Ireland
Reading period: 1–5 March, 2015
An Irish newspaper magnate has been found with his head blown off by a shotgun.
Quirke, the pathologist, looks into it and realizes that it's not suicide but murder.
As he digs deeper, he finds secrets that the wealthy elite of 1950s Dublin
do not want revealed, and he finds himself drawn to the dead man's French widow.
Benjamin Black (aka John Banville)
deftly recreates 1950s Ireland through the eyes of Quirke,
who, though well placed, is more of an observer than an insider,
and of …continue.
Title: A Long Long Way
Author: Sebastian Barry
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Keywords: fiction, historical, Ireland, First World War
Reading period: 15–28 January, 2015
Willie Dunne is the innocent 18-year-old son of a senior Dublin policeman,
who promptly joins the Royal Dublin Fusiliers when the First World War breaks out,
along with thousands of other Irishmen.
Their early optimism that the war will be over by Christmas 1914 is soon crushed
as both sides get bogged down in the trench warfare of the Western Front.
Four long, brutal years of stalemate in the killing fields of Flanders follow,
and much of Willie's regiment die during …continue.
Title: Born & Bred
Author: Peter Murphy
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Publisher: The Story Plant
Keywords: fiction, Ireland
Reading period: December 15, 2014–Jan 7, 2015
Danny Boyle is growing up in Dublin in the 1960s and 1970s,
watched over by his grandmother.
First as she raises him, then from beyond the grave.
Danny, as his parents did before him, is making a mess of his life,
and he's a small-time drug dealer with some big problems.
I grew up in Dublin, about a decade behind Danny Boyle,
so I enjoyed Murphy's evocation of Dublin in the 1970s.
However, I disliked his constant changing of viewpoint
and frequent hopping back and forth …continue.