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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

Against the Vanishing

Enda Wyley
Throughout her new collection, Mary O’Donnell proves herself a smooth stylist, converting ideas, emotions, opinions into genuine poems that have a visible and an invisible subject. It helps that her imagination is a sturdy one.
Dec 6, 2020, 16:52 PM

Looking Through You

Gerald Dawe
Below is an extract from Looking Through You: Northern Chronicles by Gerard Dawe, published this summer by Merrion Press at €18.
Dec 6, 2020, 16:47 PM

What Are We Like?

Grace Gageby
We’re the world’s friendliest people ‑ though don’t mention the Brits. We’re great at the ould writing, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the jar. God comes second only to Ireland, and sometimes first. And of course we’re always up for a scrap. Yes, yes, yes … but what are we really like?
Dec 6, 2020, 16:41 PM

Two Legs Bad

Martin Tyrrell
George Orwell never wavered in his belief in democratic socialism, though he feared those in charge might succumb to the lure of totalitarianism. The author of a new study of the writer, however, argues that a socialist society is beyond human reach ‑ since we are simply not morally up to it.
Dec 6, 2020, 16:34 PM

Red-brick Midas

John Fleming
In John Cooper Clarke’s 1960s Manchester, shirts came in three colours: white, grubby and filthy. Coloured shirts were for spivs, queers, Latinos, and worst of all, teddy boys, who by virtue of their hard-nut reputation as blade artists could wear whatever they liked.
Dec 6, 2020, 16:12 PM

What Must Be Told

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
The first duty of the artist is to be lucky. To be there like the photographer, at the right time and with the right equipment to capture what is going on. Paula Meehan’s childhood and youth ran parallel to developments in society which she was particularly well-placed to notice and record.
Dec 6, 2020, 16:02 PM

The Impossibility of Memory

Theo Dorgan
When Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, the great oral epic of Western culture, was written down, something changed forever. There is a sense in which ‘Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire’, a lament first uttered in 1773, marks the last ripple outward from that momentous event.
Dec 6, 2020, 15:38 PM

‘Staunch Fine Gael’

Frank Callanan
Garret FitzGerald, who had voted Fianna Fáil in 1961, believed his own thinking to be closer to Labour and he and other party liberals positively sought coalition to ensure that socially progressive policies which were unlikely to have commended themselves to their own party were pursued.
Dec 6, 2020, 15:19 PM

The Case of the Vanishing Phantom

John Toohey
The supernatural tale thrived for over 100 years from about 1830, but now seems to exist only as pastiche. In the Internet age, no voice need be silent or stifled any more, even if no one is listening. The ghost story, let’s face it, is not sleeping but dead. And probably best left that way.
Dec 6, 2020, 15:14 PM

Divided Loyalties

Aaron Edwards
Assessing the impact of secret intelligence in the midst of armed conflict is difficult due to the secrecy surrounding such activities. In the absence of official comment, it is perhaps unsurprising that accounts by individuals, keen to amplify their own exploits, tend to fill the gaps in our knowledge.
Dec 6, 2020, 15:08 PM

Breaking Their Will

Luke Gibbons
The physical violation of the body in force-feeding, introduced against suffragettes, highlighted issues of domination, servitude, and the desire to humiliate. Infinitely worse than the pain, wrote Sylvia Pankhurst, was the sense of degradation.
Dec 6, 2020, 14:56 PM

Plagues and Portents

Geoff Ward
In Shakespeare, the word ‘honour’, with its derivatives and variants, occurs more than 900 times. Among abstract nouns only ‘love’ and ‘time’ are used more often. Honour imposes heavy responsibilities both on those who feel they are endowed with it, and on those who aspire to it.
Dec 6, 2020, 14:46 PM

The Screen Went Blank

Tim Groenland
One of the consistent pleasures of Don DeLillo’s fiction is the sense of its author’s being attuned to frequencies of catastrophe that hum beneath the roar of the everyday: the toxic cloud on the horizon, the gunman in a lonely room, the ominous twitch in distant currency markets.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:51 PM

Two Stools and a Passion

Thomas O’Grady
Two men, ensconced on barstools – talking. The pub is a man’s world: ‘Dark wood, old mirrors, smoke-drenched walls and ceilings. And photographs of men. Jockeys, footballers, men drinking, writers ‑ all men ‑ rebels, boxers. The women were guests. The men were at home.’
Nov 5, 2020, 19:50 PM

Pushing against the Corset

Afric McGlinchey
The extent to which poets play on language varies enormously, but in Geraldine Clarkson’s debut, in which it might be said she uses wit as a palate cleanser, the reader is in for a feast of juxtaposition, unusual metaphor and conceit, highly charged lines and double entendres.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:45 PM

The Power of Concentration

Gerald Dawe
A new study provides a view of Seamus Heaney as a poet who broke through to the hearts and minds of the general reader, precisely because his poetic instincts were formed by the full resources and range of the English language, both historical and present-day, demotic and biblical.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:38 PM

Not the Death of Love

Enda Coyle-Greene
The ‘After Dennis O’Driscoll’ section of Julie O’Callaghan’s new collection is another example of her genius with brevity. That one word, ‘After’, not only gives all due respect to the importance of her late husband’s work but also sets out the strange new ‘after’ life in which she finds herself.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:34 PM

Parables of Intimacy

Ben Keatinge
Chris Agee has written extensively on the essayist Hubert Butler and is editor, with his son Jacob, of Butler’s Balkan Essays. The Agees, father and son, are uniquely qualified to elucidate the intimacies of hospitality and of hatred that characterise both the Balkans and Northern Ireland.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:24 PM

The Stuff That Hurts

Tadhg Hoey
Kevin Barry’s characters speak in ways we don’t often encounter in contemporary Irish literature. In fact, much of his vitality comes from the results he gets from steeping today’s hybridised English in the darker hues of the Hiberno-English of the rural Ireland of the past.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:21 PM

Legal Fictions

David Blake Knox
In the story ‘Ichthyanthrope’ a defendant in a murder trial urges his counsel to present an explanation for his wife’s death that defies conventional reason, arguing that it matters less if that defence is true than that it should be original and delivered to the jury with complete conviction.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:16 PM