Exhaustion and exhaustive: Colum McCann’s ‘Apeirogon’

Colum McCann’s Apeirogon (Bloomsbury, 2020) is a novel. I know this because it tells me both on the cover of the hardback edition, and in the acknowledgements. In the latter, McCann explains that this is a hybrid novel with invention at its core, a work of storytelling which, like all storytelling, weaves together elements ofContinue reading “Exhaustion and exhaustive: Colum McCann’s ‘Apeirogon’”

Top 5 blogs of 2020

The new year will soon be heralded by new blogs from me. But for now, here’s a list of my Top 5 blogs of 2020 according to views. Apart from anything else, the list provides an interesting snapshot of last year’s popular and thought-provoking books … Enjoy, and thanks for reading this blog in 2020!Continue reading “Top 5 blogs of 2020”

Trans* today or yesterday? Andrea Lawlor’s ‘Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl’

In a 2017 book Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?, Heath Fogg Davis asks: ‘Why not use transgender experience to fundamentally question the social custom of administrating sex?'[1] Using a queer logic that has roots in poststructural theory—the intricacies of which don’t need elaborating here—Davis joins two arguments. First, he argues that sex-identity discrimination—which ‘involves judgmentsContinue reading “Trans* today or yesterday? Andrea Lawlor’s ‘Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl’”

Pre-reading and re-reading Michael Longley’s ‘The Candlelight Master’

As I read the contents of Michael Longley’s ‘The Candlelight Master’, two things struck me. First, that I was pre-reading the poems by virtue of their mapping in the contents. Second, that I was pre-reading the contents by virtue of my prior knowledge of Longley’s poetry. This blog is about the first of these.

Slow reading: Adrian Duncan’s ‘Love Notes from a German Building Site’

Adrian Duncan‘s Love Notes from a German Building Site (Head of Zeus, 2019) tells Paul’s first-person story as he emigrates from Ireland to Germany to start afresh with his girlfriend, Evelyn. Paul is an engineer by trade, but his relationship with his job is tested and stretched by time spent on a job in Berlin—itContinue reading “Slow reading: Adrian Duncan’s ‘Love Notes from a German Building Site’”

Two spatial poetics: Niamh Campbell’s ‘This Happy’

Niamh Campell’s This Happy (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2020) plots Alannah’s uncanny experience of her love life repeating itself from when she was a ‘young’ 23 to an ‘old(er)’ 30 years old. The two experiences—first with a married man, Harry, second with her unnamed husband—are not identical, but there are enough similarities for the storylines toContinue reading “Two spatial poetics: Niamh Campbell’s ‘This Happy’”

Two families, alike in dignity: Christina Thatcher’s ‘How to Carry Fire’

Christina Thatcher’s How to Carry Fire (Parthian, 2020) is her second collection of poetry. It’s a fierce, impassioned, and (at times) scary collection that details the persona’s two families: her US family (mother, father, brother) beset by a range of tragedies, and her newly-forming Welsh family consisting of the persona and her husband. The literaryContinue reading “Two families, alike in dignity: Christina Thatcher’s ‘How to Carry Fire’”

Anne Enright’s ‘Actress’ (part 2): the age of consent

In my first blog on Anne Enright’s Actress (Jonathan Cape, 2020), I connected it with the late Irish poet Eavan Boland (1944–2020) through the search for a female genealogy. Or, in simpler terms, both Norah in Actress and Boland in her prose and poetry are looking for their mothers. In this blog, I again readContinue reading “Anne Enright’s ‘Actress’ (part 2): the age of consent”

Anne Enright’s ‘Actress’ (part 1): finding a mother

In this and my next blog (also on Actress), I’m going to focus on intertextuality. Intertextuality was described by Julia Kristeva as a mosaic of interaction between texts.[1] For Kristeva, this quite commonly takes the form of deliberate and explicit intertextual references—quotations, narrative nods, character types and names—but I am most interested in intertextuality thatContinue reading “Anne Enright’s ‘Actress’ (part 1): finding a mother”

Suzanne Collins’s ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: Hobbes for the twenty-first century

Suzanne Collins’s latest addition to the Panem world of the Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Scholastic, 2020), is a prequel taking place decades before the original trilogy. It follows school-leaver Coriolanus who joins the first cohort of Hunger Games mentors during the annual bloodletting’s tenth edition. As an informed reader will know—or,Continue reading “Suzanne Collins’s ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: Hobbes for the twenty-first century”

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