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

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

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