Pursued by a Bear »

  • Pinter and the making of an esque

    December 29, 2008 @ 4:31 pm | by Fiona McCann

    You know you’ve made it as a literary genius when your name becomes an adjective: these days one’s writing can be Wildean (pithily amusing), Joycean (incomprehensible) or perhaps most desirably, Pinteresque, which brings with it inaction, humour, misogyny and a sweet hint of menace. The playwright who died on Christmas Eve has been eulogised at length, but in gratitude for his ensuring my own surname appears in, if not on, a literary classic, I’d like to offer my own salute. 

    From The Birthday Party . . .

    GOLDBERG: Sit back, McCann. Relax. What’s the matter with you? I bring you down for a few days to the seaside. Take a holiday. Do yourself a favor. Learn to relax, McCann, or you’ll never get anywhere.

    MCCANN. Ah sure, I do try, Nat.

    GOLDBERG. [sitting at the table] The secret is breathing. Take my tip. It’s a well-known fact. Breathe in, breathe out, take a chance, let yourself go, what can you lose?  . . .

    . . .

     MCCANN. What about this, Nat? Isn’t it about time someone came in?

    GOLDBERG. McCann, what are you so nervous about? Pull yourself together. Everywhere you go these days it’s like a funeral.

    MCCANN. That’s true.

    GOLDBERG. True? Of course it’s true. It’s more than true. It’s a fact.

    MCCANN. You may be right.

  • Happy Holiers

    December 24, 2008 @ 9:53 pm | by Fiona McCann

    To one and all. I’m off to New York for the festivities. Enjoy ‘em.

  • YouTube Review of the Year

    December 20, 2008 @ 11:56 am | by Fiona McCann

    It was a year in which, more than ever, Ireland, and the world watched the major events through YouTube. And then watched them again and again. From Sarah Palin’s interviews to Brian Cowen as a raging Hitler. Here are some of the YouTube clips that made the news, or put a different spin on it. Watch them, and let us know what we missed.


  • Passing the poisoned chalice

    December 18, 2008 @ 11:19 am | by Fiona McCann

    At last we have a leader: Pat Moylan, former artistic director of Andrews Lane and a wonderfully energetic, personable supporter of the Arts has been appointed chairwoman of the Arts Council. She’s being joined by Louise Donlon (background theatre), Paul Johnson (dance), Fiona Kearney (visual art), Orlaith McBride (youth theatre), Caroline Senior (music, arts) and Sheelagh O’Neill (performing arts). The new names are added to existing council members Maurice Foley (music, visual arts), John Crumlish (arts festivals, performing arts), Philip King (music), Aibhlín McCrann (music) Alan Stanford (theatre) and Colm Tóibín (literature).

    As Very Hungry Caterpillar points out, this appears to leave Colm Tóibín as the only voice for literature on the Council. If that’s not worrisome enough, it also seems that most of the decisions about funding for next year had already been made before these new appointments. All, apparently, will be revealed on Friday, though far from a denouement, it’s likely that the announcements about funding will be the start of a series of battles with the new Arts Council army forced to defend decisions they likely had little part in. Hasta manana . . .

  • One can’t help doing what it says on the tin

    December 17, 2008 @ 1:17 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Lovely Lykke Li song that always makes me follow the command. And here she is performing it with Bon Iver in LA. Happy foot-tapping pre-Christmas Wednesdee.

    YouTube Preview Image
  • Net Book Agreement

    @ 11:15 am | by Fiona McCann

    At the fascinating talk by literary agent Jonathan Williams at the Writers Centre last night (the world of publishing is nefarious indeed, turns out), the subject of the now defunct Net Book Agreement came up. Introduced in 1900, it was essentially a price fixing agreement between British publishers and booksellers whereby the prices of books were set regardless of what shop shelves they graced. The idea was that any bookseller who sold a book at below the agreed price would then no longer be supplied by publishers. Worked like a charm, too, until the mid-90s when it eventually became outlawed, allowing big chains start charging knock-down prices for books and pushing the smaller, independent booksellers out of the market.

    I love a good bookshop, me, a Books Upstairs or a Winding Stair or a Secret Book and Record Store, and it makes me angry to think that they are being put under pressure by the likes of Waterstones or, worse again, Tesco. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were denied the advantage of their monolithic stature and had to give us the same book prices as everyone else? Anyway, don’t y’all have any good bookshop favourites or am I just talking to myself here?

  • Mary Robinson silenced by weather

    December 16, 2008 @ 4:08 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Just a note to let all of you planning to attend tonight’s talk with Mary Robinson in the Abbey Theatre that it has been cancelled, as due to bad weather conditions, she missed her connecting flight from Frankfurt. Spread the word and save your friends the trek to Abbey Street on a pre-Christmas night.

  • Waiting for white smoke

    December 15, 2008 @ 10:53 am | by Fiona McCann

    Arts organisations are due this week to find out what kind of Scrooge Santa Claus can be, when funding for next year is announced. Even those alread promised minimum funding will be on tenterhooks, given that everything is back on the table in the new (old) Ireland of the poor mouth and empty pocket. Deirdre Falvey’s Artscape outlined the current situation on Saturday, with a grim picture of a barely quorate Arts Council (still without a Chair, you’ll recall) attempting to redraw the money map for arts. Given that the funding and support for the arts is one of the few things this country has left to be proud of, it’s of no small concern to see how this plays out. Any suggestions on how what’s left of the funding after the Budget Blitzkrieg should be spent? Remember, the Arts Council Chair is still vacant: Answer wisely and it could be yours . . .  

  • Guest post: Tyson’s midweek knockout

    December 11, 2008 @ 10:27 am | by Fiona McCann


    By Laurence Mackin: Artist Keith Tyson and the Guardian caused a bit of a stir this week when Tyson offered 5,000 free downloadable works via the paper’s culture blog. The images are made up of unique combinations of red, black and green (inspired by Tyson’s mild obsession with gambling and roulette), with each person getting a different combination and only one download per IP address. I got mine (above) but only after bouncing between several browsers and clicking furiously like an art-crazed madman (predictably the artist’s web-hosting team were not prepared for the demand and were deluged with demands). Still, the results were enough to calm me down almost immediately.


  • Kisses

    December 10, 2008 @ 11:05 am | by Fiona McCann

    Lance Daly’s touching fairground of a film about two young runaways from a grim Dublin housing estate and their Heely adventures around town is well worth a gander. It even makes Smithfield’s annual Dublin on Ice eyesore a thing of beauty. Go see it and be won. YouTube Preview Image

  • Book off

    December 8, 2008 @ 3:34 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Medbh of Dante and the Lobster has brought this New York Times article to my attention just days after my boyfriend joined his first book club. I’ve never joined a book club myself, though I’ve always intended to, my reticence partly due to my fear that I’m likely to turn into the ayatollah of which they speak, and partly because of fear of (time) commitments. Yet several people I know and of whom I think very highly are involved in book clubs, and plenty of good things seem to come out of them (including one particularly delightful marriage). So are Joanne Kaufman and her New York Times interviewees being a little too snotty about the book club format (and about chardonnay, I might add, a fine beverage in my own estimation), or are they in fact to be avoided at all costs, much as the poopy Pamper conversations which they allegedly engender?

  • Censorship and Scientology

    December 5, 2008 @ 12:04 pm | by Fiona McCann

    So. A book on Scientology by an Irish author, published by an Irish publisher, has been removed from online bookshop Amazon.co.uk. The book, The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology, by John Duignan, recounts his 22 years as a member of the Church, and his description of a dramatic escape from what he now describes as a cult. A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology confirmed that Duignan had been a member, but says the book, co-authored by Nicola Tallant, is littered with falsehoods about the organisation. According to Duignan, who was born in Scotland but holds an Irish passport, the decision to pull his book from Amazon’s UK site tallies with what he describes as the Church’s tactics in agressively attacking any publication critical of Scientology. Add to this the fact that Tom Cruise’s representative has reportedly had to issue a denial that the actor, a high profile member of the Church, had any personal involvement in the book’s withdrawal from Amazon.co.uk. Amazon explained that  the decision was made after it was contacted by lawyers acting on behalf of an individual who claimed to have been defamed in the book, and cited Britain’s strict libel laws for their withdrawal of the book. It’s not often you get an Irish publisher and Tom Cruise in the same story, with lashings of censorship and Scientology added to the mix. Anyone else been following this? And has anyone actually read the book?

  • Poetesses and other ridiculous words

    December 2, 2008 @ 11:10 am | by Fiona McCann

    An interview with Carla Bruni by Lara Marlowe in our Saturday magazine over the weekend described the French First Lady as “songwriter, poetess and singer”. Poetess? A word as ridiculous to me as if she’d also been tagged a singeress or songwriteress. Even the word actress is defunct these days, with gender neutral descriptions expected for gender neutral professions. All this coming from someone who wrote a piece in today’s paper about five “women poets” – which perhaps opens me to the same criticism. So is there still any good reason to collect five “poetesses” together for a piece, or does such an action only serve to reinforce a sense of subcategorisation that is in itself a disservice? Over to you.

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