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Book Reviews

Dang! I should never have traded in my Les Paul copy - anyway, back to multiple realities and moral perspectives before some shuteye.

Elvis Costello Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

Thank God for Costello's acerbic sense of humour which makes the experience of reading his memoir such scurrilous pleasure as you discover the anarchic lifestyle of an Attraction at large in Tokyo and the USA.

  • Absorbing reflections on the South from Paul Theroux.

    Paul Theroux Deep South

    After fifty years spent travelling the world and writing about it, often brilliantly, Paul Theroux decided to drive through the Southern states of the USA and ask a few questions.The results are absorbing.

  • Charles Townshend's vivid and impressive study has just been published in a new paperback edition.

    Charles Townshend  Easter 1916 The Irish Rebellion

    Welcomed by many when first published in 2005, Easter 1916  The Irish Rebellion may well be the definitive account. It's now available in paperback in a new edition.

  • Jonathan Bate's commendable biography is the product of a five-year immersion in the Ted Hughes archive.

    Jonathan Bate Ted Hughes  The Unauthorised Life

    Jonathan Bate's biography of the poet Ted Hughes runs to 662 pages, but in a sense it runs longer, if you include the assertions and counter-assertions that have arisen since the book appeared earlier this month, making it a decidedly controversial work.

  • Plague, plays and a stroppy daughter - William Shakespeare and the Year of King Lear

    James Shapiro 1606

    Some Leaving Cert students might wish that 1606 never happened and that there never was dreamed up a cranky, elderly regal chap by name of Lear. But it was a fruitful time for the Bard who also wrote Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra that year.

  • A House in St John's Wood: Matthew Spender's tolerant, perceptive portrait of his parents' unconventional marriage.

    Matthew Spender A House in St John's Wood

    Matthew Spender's clear-eyed, sympathetic portrait of his talented parents, Stephen and Natasha, deserves to be one of the books of the year.

  • James Liddy married the upfront demotic of the Beats with Catholic inheritance and a canny knowledge of Irishry in city, town and country.

    James Liddy Selected Poems

    The Dublin-born poet, academic and memoirist James Liddy died in 2008, at the age of 74. Many of his books are still in print yet his work deserves much greater recognition. Selected Poems is an excellent place to begin to know the work.

  • Donal Ryan: a profound sensitivity to the possibilities inherent in human relations.

    Donal Ryan A Slanting of the Sun

    Donal Ryan's debut short stories, A Slanting of the Sun, lurk in the murky shafts of dark territory, but many of the stories have a striking poetic grace and a profound sensitivity to the possibilities inherent in human relations.

  • Mac Domhnaill's county Limerick is impish and tragic by turns, and his tales are deep-rooted in the farming patterns of the place. A few stories are set elsewhere in Ireland.

    Mike Mac Domhnaill Sifting

    Mike MacDomhnaill won the Francis MacManus Short Story award in 2013 and his debut collection avoids the contemporary, choosing mostly to portray aspects of mid-twentieth century life in rural County Limerick with strikingly imaginative verve and skill.

  • Reacher's criss-crossing of the US brings him to Mother's Rest, Oklahoma

    Lee Child Make Me

    It's the 20th book in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. Harry Guerin thinks there could be some changes ahead for this hero of our time.

  • Maurice Riordan: moving, vivid evocations from a rural Cork upbringing

    Maurice Riordan The Holy Land/ The Water Stealer

    Cork poet Maurice Riordan has written beautifully of his rural upbringing in Lisgoold, County Cork, in the collections Floods, The Water Stealer and The Holy Land. Rendered in a Munster accent, Riordan's is a different take from Seamus Heaney's view.

  • Lesser-known  - but no lesser for that - F Scott Fitzgerald stories gathered in two tasteful volumes

    F Scott Fitzgerald The Love Boat and Other Stories

    The author of The Great Gatsby wrote so much more than that classic novel, or novels such as Tender Is the Night and The Beautiful and the Damned. His short stories have a bittersweet sense of felt life, of virtue and strength found in unlikely places.

  • Richard Pine's new book, Greece Through Irish Eyes. The author draws fascinating parallels between Greece and Ireland in his 388-page book.

    Richard Pine Greece Through Irish Eyes

    Richard Pine casts an astute and sometimes wry eye on his adopted land in this detailed, compelling account.

  • An absorbing selection of Irish poems published since 1916 which will stop you turning out the bedside lamp.

    Windharp: Poems of Ireland since 1916

    This welcome new anthology is perhaps doing its most useful thing when it turns up neglected gems, from poets like Katharine Tynan and Padraic Fallon. Classic work from Kavanagh and Heaney is also given time in the sun again within the book's 318 pages.

  • The Blue Guitar: a profound exploration of the loss of dear things in one man's life - innocence, brief happiness, fleeting love.

    John Banville The Blue Guitar

    In The Blue Guitar, John Banville continues to play the elegaic, tender note that informed his last novel, Ancient Light as the Wexford-born novelist delves through his season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.