Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In My Mailbox

Welcome to my In My Mailbox this week. This is a lovely meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received my latest book parcel from Kennys Bookshop in Galway, Ireland over the weekend and I wanted to share. All books were purchased by me but chosen by Des Kenny.

Fool's Sanctuary by Jennifer Johnston
from the back cover:
The Great War is over; but the war in Ireland is only just beginning, as the IRA and the Black and Tans move on to the attack. It all seems very remote to Miranda Martin, during that miraculous Indian summer. Her father, hoping to forget his dead wife, thinks of nothing but his trees; Miranda thinks of the future, a future which must surely include Cathal, who brings news from Dublin. Everything seems calm and serene.

But then Andrew, her officer brother, comes home bringing his eccentric, likeable friend Harry, and as the Indian summer fades, the scene is set for tragedy.

Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan
summary from Goodreads:
Claire Keegan’s brilliant debut collection, Antarctica, was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year, and earned her resounding accolades on both sides of the Atlantic. Now she has delivered her next, much-anticipated book, Walk the Blue Fields, an unforgettable array of quietly wrenching stories about despair and desire in the timeless world of modern-day Ireland. In the never-before-published story “The Long and Painful Death,” a writer awarded a stay to work in Heinrich Boll’s old cottage has her peace interrupted by an unwelcome intruder, whose ulterior motives only emerge as the night progresses. In the title story, a priest waits at the altar to perform a marriage and, during the ceremony and the festivities that follow, battles his memories of a love affair with the bride that led him to question all to which he has dedicated his life; later that night, he finds an unlikely answer in the magical healing powers of a seer.
A masterful portrait of a country wrestling with its past and of individuals eking out their futures, Walk the Blue Fields is a breathtaking collection from one of Ireland’s greatest talents, and a resounding articulation of all the yearnings of the human heart

Lights in the Distance by Susan Millar DuMars
A collection of short stories.

The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman by Flann O'Brien
from Goodreads:
"Along with Joyce and Beckett, [Flann O'Brien] constitutes our trinity of great Irish writers. And who is funnier?"
- Edna O'Brien

The cream of Flann O'Brien's comic tour-de-force, the Keats and Chapman stories began in O'Brien's column in the Irish Times. He called them "studies in literary pathology" -- monstrously tall tales that explore the very limits of the shaggy dog story. As one critic wrote, they will accumulate the fantasy to the point of sadism, and then cash home with the flat, desolating pun.

"The Brother" is another of O'Brien's funniest creations. He is the archetypal Dublin man -- an authority on every one of mankind's ills, from the common cold to the court case. Forget the experts, The Brother knows best.

"The best comic writer I can think of."
- S. J. Perelman

Julius Winsome by Gerard Donovan
summary from Goodreads:
Living alone with his dog in the remote cabin in the woods, Julius Winsome is not unlike the barren winter lands that he inhabits: remote, vacant, inscrutable. But when his dog Hobbes is killed by hunters, their carelessness—or is it cruelty?—sets Julius's precarious mindset on end.
He is at once more alone than he has ever been; he was at first with his father, until he died; then with Claire, until she disappeared with another man into a more normal life in town; and then with Hobbes, who eased the sorrow of Claire's departure. Now Hobbes is gone.
Julius is left with what his father left behind: the cabin that he was raised in; a lifetime of books, lining every wall of his home, which have been Julius's lifelong friends and confidantes; and his great-grandfather's rifle from World War I, which Julius had been trained to shoot with uncanny skill and with the utmost reluctance. But with the death of his dog, Julius's reluctance has reached its end. More and more, simply and furtively, it is revenge that is creeping into his mind.
Fresh snow is on the ground as the hunters lumber into his sights. They're well within the old gun's range. They pause, and they're locked into the crosshairs. Julius's finger traces the trigger. Will he pull it? And what will that accomplish? What if he simply has nothing left to lose?

Old Swords and Other Stories by Desmond Hogan
description from Goodreads:
These eleven stories by Desmond Hogan, his first publication since Larks' Eggs: New and Selected Stories (2005), collect newly minted shards of experience focused on the lives of the dreamers and marginalized who populate his imagined worlds. They range in time and place from France, Germany and Italy in the nineteenth century to Ireland of the 1950s and the present day. Their concerns are fragility and identity expressed through the outer semblances of dress and deportment, and inner realities of involuntary memory and the retrieval of shared pasts. Close observation of nature combines with psychological unveilings, much of it in the form of erotic reverie. This bricolage of melded history and a fragmented modernism renders truth-to-experience like no other contemporary voice.

This author's linguistic resourcefulness is unique to Irish letters, and each new gathering enlarges upon his reputation as one of Ireland's most fearless and invigorating writers, who, in the words of film-maker Neil Jordan, "remakes the world every time he puts pen to paper'"

The River Field by John MacKenna
from the back cover:
This magnificent collection of short stories by one of Ireland's finest writers is set over the centuries and bound by one connecting factor - a field near the author's beloved Castledermot, Co. Kildare. Each story showcases MacKenna's incredible gift of capturing a moment, an emotion, a time in sensuous yet stark language.

Without My Cloak by Kate O'Brien
description from Goodreads:
When Anthony Considine creeps into Mellick town with a stolen horse in 1789, it sets the destiny of his family for decades to come. By the 1850s, through thrift and hard work, his son Honest John has made the Considines a leading Mellick family. In turn, his son Anthony builds a fine house in the country for his wife and children—most especially for his adored son Dennis. Little does he know that when Dennis grows up he will threaten the toil of generations with his love for a peasant girl. A stirring family saga of divided loyalties and individual freedom; of matches made and lost; and of the constraints of religion and family pride

A Donegal Trilogy by Little John Nee
from back cover:
This book contains three plays by Little John Nee: the Derry Boat, Rural Electric and The Mental. John is a writer, performer, songwriter and storyteller. Raised in Glasgow until the age of 12, he then returned with his family to his parents' native Donegal. John's work is rooted in the stories of the ordinary people of Ireland, and in particular his home county of Donegal, that most Scottish of Irish counties. His work though is not ordinary. It is lyrical, moving and precise: each word, each song, each note each gesture plays its part in crafting his stories. Audiences everywhere identify with those stories for their simplicity and humanity in telling the experience of the ordinary man.

A Second Life by Dermot Bolger
description from Goodreads:
Following a car crash, for several seconds, Dublin photographer Sean Blake is clinically dead. When he plummets back to life, it is into a world which, for him, has profoundly changed. This is not the first time that he has been given a second life. At the age of six weeks he was taken from his mother, when as a young girl in rural Ireland, she was forced to give up her baby for adoption. Beginning the quest for his own identity, Sean determines to find his natural mother. This leads him on a strange and absorbing journey. Bolger exposes a dark wound from Ireland's history to explore how we must not only reclaim the past but try to redeem it. As Sean closes in on the truth of his birth, A Second Life builds with a resonance that is both through-provoking and utterly moving.

Crannog 25 - a collection of fiction and poetry

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