'Patrick Freyne has tried a lot of stupid ideas in his life. Now in his scintillating debut he is here to tell you about them' - thus reads the rather deprecating prefatory note for Patrick Freyne's refreshing tome.
As the preface states, Freyne has had a lot of stupid ideas over the years, and freely admits this collection of essays could well be another one of them.
The opening pages recall what should have been a moral boosting telephone conversation with Freyne's best friend known as Corncrake. Corncrake is cheerily providing feedback on the collection of essays and while the "writing is very good" he does despair about who would have an interest in reading them. After all, it’s just about his own life, something better suited to a therapy session perhaps? Why doesn’t Freyne write about a famous general or historic figure instead? Now that would be interesting.
Having established his best friend's general lack of belief in the project, Freyne appropriately sets the satirical stage for his collection and wider audience. As a journalist with The Irish Times, Freyne is an accomplished writer who over the years has written on a vast array of topics. Now with this collection he writes about his own life experiences, all recounted with his unique light, witty and endearing touch.
For example, how many of us have jumped out a plane for charity? How brave and noble it sounds. Then add in the footnote of not actually having an interest in the specific charity, being terrified, immediately regretting the decision, and confident that the countdown to the jump date is nothing other than a countdown to your impending death - and suddenly the whole honourable event takes on quite a different spin.
This collection covers many aspects of the human condition; childish sibling rivalry, nearly being shot and killed while living on the Curragh, the mortification of being stranded naked by a lake or simply drunkenly eating kebabs. This is a great little book to dip in and out of, and readers are sure to find something to their taste.
At one point , Freyne reveals a deep-rooted fear he’s carried his whole life - that he is not as sentient as other people and doesn’t experience reality the same way. He then comes to the realisation that the "brilliant thing about this, as a sustainable fear" is that the truth is that we can never really know the answer.
I myself would argue that the perhaps the closest we will ever get to realising this fear, is to put our own realities to the test and share our experiences and perspectives such as Freyne does. Only then can we develop a sense of oneness and shared humanity.
Right now, perhaps society doesn’t need more epic tales of infamous generals or great deeds of mythic proportions. Sometimes the best dose of medicine for the heart and soul can be found in the honest sweet stories and tales of the everyday, such as Freyne offers readers in this modest collection.
Pop the kettle on and the feet up, then sit back relax and indulge in the well-written, ordinary yet extraordinary tales and thoughts of Patrick Freyne.