Oct 13, 2011

Falling into Good Books

It's that time of year again. Neighbors blow away real leaves and decorate their doorways with fake leaves. Schoolkids are yellow-bused off to pristine pumpkin patches, while I check the expiration date on a tin of pumpkin puree I bought a few years ago. Squirrels prepare for fall by hoarding acorns while I hoard books ...

The Devil is an Irishman
I hate scary movies. I'm chicken. I don't mind blood and gore in action movies that involve men in gladiator or Spartan costumes, but I hate horrors. So while everyone else turns to Freddie Krueger, Chucky, Leatherface, and Hannibal Lecter for kicks, I turn to Irish folklorist Eddie Lenihan. The Devil is an Irishman is a collection of four stories about the devil—tales of whom far outnumber tales of God in Irish tradition, according to folklorist/seanchaí Eddie Lenihan. I love how the Devil in old Irish stories is a bit of a rogue, or character, willing to give you a second chance if you show wit or courage. Love the spilling of wit and words (not blood!)
The Devil is an Irishman at Amazon.com

On Canaan's Side
A few pages into Irish writer Sebastian Barry's On Canaan's Side and I added three more books by him to my hibernation list: The Secret Scripture, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, and A Long Long Way. I had ordered On Canaan's Side after reading The Guardian's review which described Barry's prose as "overwhelmingly poetic, its lyricism yielding a seemingly endless series of potent and moving images: Lilly's shoreline home, engulfed by "those long-limbed creaturely fogs that walk in against the Hamptons like armies"; her brother Willie Dunne home on leave from France, "disguised by the thin dust of terror he carried on him"; Lilly's mind careering through her past like "an unbroken pony"."
Lilly is an 89-year-old woman who is preparing to take her own life. Her grandson Bill has committed suicide, and she does not want to linger in a world without her Bill. Lilly spends seventeen days reeling out her life story in what she calls a 'confession.' She tells of her girlhood in Ireland, and then the rest of her life as an immigrant in America. I won't say anymore. It was an beautiful read and I was sorry to close the book and walk away from Lilly and her dreamlike narrative.
Can't wait to read The Secret Scripture next. ...
 On Canaan's Side: A Novel at Amazon.com

The Forgotten Waltz
I'm starting Anne Enright's The Forgotten Waltz today and I'm confident it's the right book to take along with me while I come and go to appointments this afternoon and tomorrow. I'll feel better knowing that if I have to sit and wait anywhere, I'll have good company. It's described as a "haunting story of desire: a recollection of the bewildering speed of attraction, the irreparable slip into longing." Ooooh ..
The Forgotten Waltz at Amazon.com

The Help
I'm a little behind the ball with The Help; my friend Mary had recommended it as a beach read for my Puerto Rico trip a little while back, but Skippy Dies arrived first and The Help sat helpless... until last week. I read it fast, ignoring the hyped criticisms that followed this hyped book ( i.e., a white woman pandering to black stereotypes and that it's the chick-lit version of To Kill a Mockingbird.) I can't pretend I didn't love it or that I wasn't entirely impressed that this is Kathryn Stockett's first novel, and I would have no qualms recommending it to friends (who have, no doubt, already read it and seen the movie, too). I loved the characters and loved how it held me captive for three days. It does leave me wanting to read more about Jim Crow's south; awareness or guilt? Maybe a good book inspires a little bit of both.

Cúpla  focail

I'm also attempting to regain my long-lost grasp of Irish (something I resolved to do back in January!) by forcing myself to read a little Irish everyday. I have a copy of Padraic O'Conaire's Scothscealta dating back to my school days and I'm slowly feeling my way through it (and getting a great kick out of my older brother's notes littering the margins!)

On the bookshelf horizon are Claire Keegan's new novel and a couple of short story collections from Nuala Ní Chonchúir. I need more shelves!
Hope you are cozied up with a good read. 


mise said...

Scothscéalta - how that brings back the schooldays. Go n-éirí leis an léitheoireacht Ghaeilge! An bhfaca tú Foinse ar líne anseo - http://www.foinse.ie/

Jacinta said...

Go raibh maith agat Mise; tá Foinse níos éasca agus níos suimiúla le léamh ná mo leabhair!! (I can read and figure out Irish fairly okay, but I haven't tried to 'speak' Irish in so long that I am delighted no one can hear me hum and haw and uhm and aaah in between each word!)

Smbumblebee said...

Love the Iron Maiden graffiti on the book! My brothers books were covered in that sort of thing too. Must pull out my leabhair as Gaeilge too - thanks for the reminder!


I LOVED the Enright - let us know how you get on with it.

Ah, Scothscéalta - I still have mine too:)

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