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Book Reviews
Windharp
Arranged chronologically by year of first publication in volume form, this new anthology - whose subtitle is Poems of Ireland since 1916 - is fascinating in how it unwittingly charts a century, offering an absorbing chronicle of preoccupations and perspectives through ten decades. The poems are, in the main, public poems that have something to say, sometimes lifting into astute observation on matters of church and state and how they intersected throughout the twentieth century. Beginning with Katharine Tynan and ending with Moya Cannon, the impact of momentous public events can be discerned in immortal verses. P K
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John Banville The Blue Guitar
All his life, Olly Orme has been a selective, if compulsive thief. Although married to the shadowy Gloria, he also stole Polly, the wife of his best friend Marcus, even if Olly might argue that she made the first move during a night-time car journey. Orme is a painter whose creative juices have dried up, but he is a painter nonetheless. So the prose rises marvellously to the challenge of a painter who has no recourse to his sketches, his oils and canvas. So he is reduced to mere words to describe and represent things, in sentences such as the following: "the sky of depthless turquoise held a kind of dark pulsing at its zenith..." The Blue Guitar confirms once again the presence of one of the most humane, perceptive writers working in English today. Paddy Kehoe
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A Useless Man Sait Faik Abasiyanik
Sait Faik Abasiyanik ( 1906-1954) is still one of Turkey’s most revered writers who, amidst other literary works, wrote twelve books of short stories. The stories collected in A Useless Man are vivid tales of the marginalised and poor in Istanbul which sparkle into life in Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe’s masterful translations. Engrossing and curiously refreshing, Sait Faik opens magical doors to Istanbul as it stood back in the early twentieth century, with its colourful array of prostitutes, barflys and musicians who frequented its coffee and tea houses and drinking dens. Paddy Kehoe
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The Long, Hot Summer
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Georges Simenon Inspector Maigret
Crime writer Georges Simenon (1903-1989) wrote 75 Maigret novels and 28 Maigret short stories. Penguin Classics are reissuing them all in translation and they are well worth checking out. The author offered very little glosses or explanations but the following few words are interesting in terms of how the author viewed his best-known character, Inspector Maigret. “My motto, to the extent that I have one, has been noted often enough, and I’ve always conformed to it. It’s the one I’ve given to old Maigret, who resembles me in certain points.....’understand and judge not.’ Highly recommended. PK
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