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

The Art of Honesty

Liam Mac Amhlaigh
Caitríona Ní Chléirchín is adept in using mythology to engage with deep feelings. Her poems can be appreciated without knowledge of their literary pedigree, but for anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with the Irish literary and song tradition there is added enjoyment.
Nov 5, 2020, 19:13 PM

Seigneur Moments

Kevin Power
Martin Amis’s work can be understood as a series of riffs on the base elements of male friendship: rivalry, companionship, sublimated desire. The bullshit quotient is in some ways an index of the bullshit quotient of male friendships, or maybe just the bullshit quotient of men.
Nov 5, 2020, 18:21 PM

A Mission to Unite

Patricia Craig
Deeply Catholic, though also feminist and liberal, President Mary McAleese built bridges between the denominations. Her commitment was impressive and her story is an inspiring one, even if its large cast of popes, cardinals, bishops, priests and nuns sometimes overwhelms.
Nov 5, 2020, 18:10 PM

Toasted Heretic

Kevin Myers scored a notable political success in persuading Ireland to remember its First World War dead. He frequently punctured fashionable illusions and could have been an effective voice of intelligent conservatism if only he had been able to control his inner adolescent.
Nov 5, 2020, 18:01 PM

The Aptest Form

David O'Connor
Ranking writers is silly. Affinity, love, allure; consolation, seduction, desire; want – these are the words. Yet it cannot be resisted: no one writes a more alluring, more seductive sentence than Brian Dillon.
Nov 5, 2020, 11:38 AM

Laughter from the Grave

Katrina Goldstone
In a media mire of tragedy porn and toothrotsweet sentimentality designed to blunt both our senses and our judgement, revisiting Jenny Diski’s essays, with their wonderful jokes and deftly contained anger, is both a pleasurable experience and a salutary exercise.
Nov 5, 2020, 11:32 AM

Ambassador of Conscience

Hugh Logue
Kevin Boyle’s authority within People’s Democracy and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association derived essentially from his calm, measured delivery. Others certainly had charisma to burn, but as one contemporary observer put it ‘this guy had analysis’.
Nov 5, 2020, 11:27 AM

The Most Gifted Woman in Ireland

Tadhg Foley
Hannah Lynch’s enthusiasm for travel was central to her writing. Her status as a lone, unchaperoned woman traveller, and coming from Ireland, a country much travelled against, doubtless sharpened her critique of existing dominant travel narratives.
Nov 5, 2020, 11:21 AM

This Is Not About Me

Kathleen Shields
Why do novelists write novels about novelists? Maylis Besserie presents the thoughts of an elderly gentleman from another generation, someone removed from her by era, gender and nationality, and thus asserts, in defiance of current orthodoxy, the independence of artistic creation.
Nov 5, 2020, 11:17 AM

The Liar’s Dividend

Luke Warde
If what passes for political satire has as its chief effect the buttressing of the belief that all politics is mired in deceit, then shameless, unconcealed mendacity can come to seem, however perversely, refreshingly honest ‑ with results that by now are too depressingly clear.
Nov 5, 2020, 11:12 AM

Unintended Consequences

Brian M Walker
In December 1920 the Catholic bishop of Cork said violence in the city had ‘become like a devil’s competition in feats of murder and arson’ between the IRA and Crown forces. Shortly afterwards a large gang of men destroyed the printing presses of the ‘Examiner’, which had printed his pastoral.
Nov 5, 2020, 11:07 AM

Shaping ‘Nature’

Michael Cronin
The problem for many of the ‘improvers’ of 19th century Ireland was that they saw too much ‘nature’ – wild, uncivilised, uncouth. An unwillingness to face the implications of expropriation meant that ‘improvement’ was more often tendentious, moral scold than economic remedy.
Nov 5, 2020, 11:01 AM

The Spirit of Cities

Leanne Ogasawara
Cities are smells: Cairo is mango and ginger, Beirut sun, sea, smoke and lemons. But in many of our cities the waters are rising. In Bangkok the water is inexorably reaching up and those familiar fragrances we have loved ‑ of noodles, tiger balm and teak – may soon be washed away.
Oct 7, 2020, 10:42 AM

Remembering How We Stood

Declan Toohey
Peter Cunningham’s new novel recognises the centrality of femininity to the revolutionary period, while a subplot acknowledges that homosexuality existed beyond the pages of Roger Casement’s diary. The epilogue asks us to bring a critical eye to all things historical, fiction or otherwise.
Oct 7, 2020, 10:37 AM

Scourging Buffoonery

Amanda Bell
Rita Ann Higgins’s new collection ranges from polemical pandemic poems to a meditation on the society which locked up its unwanted – ‘poor devils with leaky brains and acres galore’ – and a caustic satire on those Christian Irish who wish to offer asylum only to Christians.
Oct 7, 2020, 10:33 AM

Imperial Warrior

Angus Mitchell
Kennedy Trevaskis was a colonial administrator for the British empire until, in 1964, he was sacked by a Labour minister he sneered at as ‘a Hampstead Socialist’. His memoir reminds us of a vanished world of empire in which, to those in charge, black lives didn’t greatly matter.
Oct 7, 2020, 10:26 AM

Do not laugh, do not dance

Rosita Sweetman
Large numbers of Moroccan women confided to Leila Slimani, on a book tour to promote her first novel, their ‘sexual suffering, frustration and alienation’. Their stories, with a blistering commentary from Slimani, make for a frightening but fascinating account of her country’s repressive culture.
Oct 7, 2020, 10:17 AM

Empire Loyalists

Maurice Walsh
For Walter Bagehot, the best-known editor of ‘The Economist’, the prospect of workers organising to defend their interests represented ‘an evil of the first magnitude’. The paper’s first love, however, was always empire, British of course; but after that ran out of road American would do.
Oct 7, 2020, 10:06 AM

Her Dance with History

Theo Dorgan
One might have expected of Eavan Boland’s posthumously published last collection a certain composure, poems that would speak at last of a history in which she could, finally, begin to feel at home, a history of inclusion, of comfort with contradictions. This is not that book.
Oct 7, 2020, 09:54 AM

Il Miglior Fabbro

William Wall
Ezra Pound was a fascist and, even after the Holocaust, an unrepentant antisemite, yet he was also a brilliant poet, a great synthesiser of cultures and absolutely central to Modernism in English as an associate of Eliot and Yeats and a fierce champion of the young James Joyce.
Oct 7, 2020, 09:39 AM