Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Theme: Ireland

  • The Anglo-Irish Ascendancy were an odd mixture of the soft-headed and the hard-nosed. If they could be a dreamy, spook-ridden, eccentric bunch, they also had a keen eye for the price of an acre or the cost of a domestic servant. Washed up by history and finally dispossessed by their own state, their more progressive wing could nevertheless see themselves as in the van of modernity, held back by a bunch of benighted papists.Read more
  • Anyone familiar with the story of language in Elizabethan Ireland can only feel impatience – if not despair – at the latter-day triumphalism of works like Melvyn Bragg’s best-selling The Adventure of English.Read more
  • I got my first real glimpse of that beast in the Burger Chef restaurant that used to occupy the basement of the Cathedral of Learning, at the University of Pittsburgh, in my senior year, when a classmate in Josephine O’Brien Schaefer’s Ulysses seminar tossed a paperback copy across our table and dared me to open it to any page and make head or tail of what I found there.Read more
  • An irate member of the public shares his views concerning the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath.Read more
  • A reviewer once described the writer Thomas Lynch as a cross between Garrison Keillor and William Butler Yeats. I’ll say more later about the Yeats genes in this hybrid cross. But the comparison with Keillor is apt: both men are big, bearded, jowly and affable in performance. Read more
  • The morning of September 21st, 1976 was unusually dull. Rain had been forecast. I was in my office on the second floor of the Irish embassy, occasionally looking out on the tranquillity of Sheridan Circle on Massachusetts Avenue, Washington. I was still in the process of taking up my new job as counsellor (political). Read more
  • “A really funny book,” was James Joyce’s verdict on At Swim-Two-Birds, the comic masterpiece by his compatriot Brian O’Nolan, a.k.a. Flann O’Brien. Graham Greene said he read it “with excitement, amusement and the kind of glee one experiences when people smash china on the stage.” Read more
  • This year Ireland was not the only country to celebrate a national holiday on March 17th. This was also the day on which, a hundred and fifty years ago, the kingdom of Italy was officially proclaimed in Turin Read more
  • A waster is a practice weapon made out of wood, usually a sword.Read more
  • Dublin was a city on the east coast of Ireland. Dublin was the biggest city, and the capital. And Dublin was depressed.Read more
  • As an immigrant from Ireland settled in Nebraska for an extended period, I was immediately excited to seek out the landscapes that comprise the American West.Read more
  • For much of the past two decades, the Republic of Ireland found itself hailed as a crowning glory of neo-liberalism. Between 1993 and 2000, Irish gnp grew by an average of 9 per cent a year.Read more
  • From my perch in Moscow, the inimitable words of Yogi Berra come to mind as I watch the economic turmoil in Ireland and the contagion effects on others that constitute the soft underside of the eurozone currency area. The sense of déjà vu is palpable. No, I am not thinking about Greece when international bond markets turned against the sovereign debt issued by the Greek Government last May, as unprecedented as it may have seemed at the time.Read more
  • Short stories seldom creak, the way novels sometimes creak; they are allowed to be easy and deft. Some writers say that the short story is too "easy" to matter much, some say it is the most difficult form of all. But if the argument is about ease as opposed to difficulty, then surely we should not under value ease. And though it may be easy to write something that looks like a short story (for being not long), it is very hard to write a good one – or to be blessed by a good one – so many of the ones we read are fakes. Read more
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