Pursued by a Bear »

  • Free things!

    June 30, 2009 @ 3:33 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Farmleigh House in the Phoenix park is a summer delight in itself, all big windows and lush grounds, but add in a salon series (in the ballroom, no less – swit-swoo!) and the magic word FREE and it’s pretty close to paradise. From Tuesday, July 21st to Wednesday, August 11th (my sister’s birthday) they’re running a series of concerts that encompass a fairly hefty range of musical genres in the gorgeous surrounds of this one-time Guinness-owned estate.  Singer\Songwriter Julie Feeney kicks things off on July 21st, followed by jazz pianist John Taylor, then trad duo Hayes & Cahill, and culminating in some Turkish/Mediterranean music in Tarab with the Chinese/Irish blend of The Xi’An Si. Did I mention it’s FREE? You just have to enter the lotter, at www.salonseries.ie. For more information on this and further cultural goodies at Farmleigh this summer, go to www.farmleigh.ie. And tell ‘em I sent you. 

  • Heart of Darkness

    June 29, 2009 @ 8:08 am | by Fiona McCann

    Got five and a half hours to spare and a soft spot for Joseph Conrad? Then mosey down to The Joinery on Arbour Hill on July 9th, where Gavin Kostick will be giving his acclaimed performance of the entire and complete text of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. How can it possibly work? How can an audience be sustained through a five and a half hour performance, let alone Kostick himself? I’m curious, and if you are too, there are further details here. The horror, the horror . . .

  • Twitterature

    June 25, 2009 @ 10:40 am | by Fiona McCann

    Literature and Twitter together at last, thanks to two University of Chicago students who are bringing out a book that will condense literary classics into 20 tweets or less. Call that a challenge? I say hone ‘em down to one tweet, in less than 140 characters. Say, for example, The Great Gatsby: “Gatsby throws parties, loves Daisy, who kills Myrtle who loves Tom, but Gatsby gets the bullet. Green light flashes. As told by Nick.” Anyone else like to give it a go?

  • To make a long story short

    June 23, 2009 @ 8:38 pm | by Fiona McCann

    So Claire Keegan won the Davy Byrnes prize for her short story Foster, described by competition judge Richard Ford as exhibiting “a patient attention to life’s vast consequence and finality . . . through a lavish, discriminating appetite for language and its profound capacity to return us to life renewed.”  (Just before she won, I swore blind to another writer at the event that there was no way Keegan would bag this prize given that she’s already been practically festooned with awards. Shows what I know: All I can say is her mantelpiece must be heaving).  There was a lot of tribute being paid to the short story and our own particular mastery of the form on this island, and everyone knows how hard it is to make a long story short, but what does it take? What’s an Irish short story got that an American hasn’t? What makes a short story work, because it’s clearly a lot more complicated than it looks? And though favourites are for losers and all, anyone have any particularly beloved to share? I’ll start the ball rolling with a mention of a Gerard Woodward story that’s always stayed with me, called Rape, from his collection Caravan Thieves. Anyone got any Carvers or Woolffs or O’Faolains to add?

  • Hey tweeters

    June 22, 2009 @ 11:17 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Just saw this on facebook, and other versions on twitter: “If anyone is on twitter, set your location to Tehran and your time zone to GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut Iranians’ access to the internet down. Cut & paste & please pass it on.”

  • The future of the Irish Writers’ Centre

    @ 12:05 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Do we need an Irish Writers’ Centre? If so, with what kind of remit? Who should pay for it? What do Irish writers require in such a body? What do readers need? If you have an opinion about the existence or otherwise of the Irish Writers’ Centre, step up to its pretty Parnell Street headquarters next Saturday at 3.30 p.m. for an open public meeting on the subject. For further details, click here.

  • Youth is wasted . . .

    June 19, 2009 @ 4:19 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Youth is wasted, alright, on pot, cocaine and occasional speedballs in This Is Our Youth, the latest Bedrock production, which opened last night at The Cube in the Project Arts Centre. Written by Kenneth Lonergan (who also wrote You Can Count On Me and Analyze This, and co-wrote Gangs of New York) and directed by the gem that is Jimmy Fay, the play revolves around three college-age American kids living on Manhattan’s Upper Westside during the early Reagan days. Dennis, Warren (played by Mark Ruffalo in the play’s first production back in 1996, and here with winning intensity by Ciaran O’Brien) and Jessica are disaffected rich kids looking for direction/attention/affection/the next high, and the play explores 48 hours in their city slacker lives. It’s funny, it’s moving, it’s superbly scripted and apart from the occasional accent slippage, contains some gutsy, potent performances and convincing chemistry sparking between O’Brien’s Warren and Charlie Murphy’s Jessica. Plus it’s a hoot: you should, like, totally check it out.

  • Strange ways here we come . . .

    June 18, 2009 @ 10:46 am | by Fiona McCann

    The Irish Film Institute’s documentary festival Stranger Than Fiction opens today with The Yes Men Fix The World, which follows two political activists who dress up in thrift shop suits and pose as executives from corporations they hate to infiltrate the world of big business and show it up in all its greedy, corrupt true colours. But in a funny way, apparently. The film won the audience award at the Berlin International Film Festival, and director, Mike Bonanno, who is one of the Yes Men himself, will be answering questions afterwards. If you don’t make it this evening, there’s plenty more in store over the coming days, including Saturday’s screening of The Liberties, a series of short films about that particular Dublin delight, Forgetting Dad which documents the filmmaker’s father’s amnesia and 65_RedRoses, a film about three cystic fibrosis sufferers who meet and form friendships online. Full programme available here, and I haven’t even mentioned the overweight Slovenian boozer who decides to swim the Amazon . . .

  • Are you dancin’?

    June 17, 2009 @ 5:31 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Granted, it’s not a flash mob by the strict definition of such, but it’s still a chance to shake your booty in Connolly station during the rush hour. Nothing like the early morning rince to get the blood flowing. The plan is to launch this year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival next Monday with a mass dance off in Connolly Station. Interested parties should show up at 8.30 and look out for Christine Monk (087 675 5329) or Layla O’Mara  (086 397 7832) at the main ground floor concourse cafe, then be prepared to receive dance instructions from Tom Creed, festival curator. Not only do you get to jiggle your wiggle in front of bleary-eyed commuters, you then get to show the world through YouTube. All this and the promise of a free t-shirt – strictly come get one, folks! Those already tapping their feet should email christinemonk@eircom.net or text 087 675 5329  to make sure they’ve a spot in the mob. Happy dancing, people. . .

  • Blooming daze

    June 15, 2009 @ 8:45 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Well, it’s that time of year again, innit? This year’s Bloomsday has already kicked off at the James Joyce centre, with free events on the go since Saturday. Tomorrow things will step up a gear, with the full Irish breakfast in the centre while actors read from the big book. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. there’ll be readings and songs and the like taking place at Meeting House square in Tempble Bar, while the Bloomdsay walks begin at 11 a.m. and take in some of the city centre sites that featured in Ulysses.  If by end of day you haven’t had your fill of people in old dresses waxing lyrical about a book that very few of them have read, there’s a screening of John Huston’s adaptation of The Dead at the IFI at 8.30 p.m. So is all this prancing and fancy dress a fitting tribute to the writer, or would he turn in his grave at the thought? Any of y’all planning to channel some JJ on the day? Your blooming thoughts on Bloomsday, readers . . .

  • Les Holidays

    June 13, 2009 @ 5:01 am | by Fiona McCann

    Gone holidaying again. Books I’m bringing: All Names Have Been Changed, by Claire Kilroy, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz and Lovers and Strangers by David Grossman. Back soon.

  • Picasso thief

    June 9, 2009 @ 4:37 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Seriously, how do they still get away with this? And how long has it been stolen? According to one website, last year alone all of this stuff went walkabout. Just last month, a painting found in a tip in Ireland that was up for auction had to be withdrawn when someone claimed it had been stolen from their family home decades earlier. Who steals a painting and dumps it in a tip? Who steals a painting at all? And how do they keep getting away with it? I’m off to watch The Thomas Crown Affair for some tips.

  • Catching up

    June 8, 2009 @ 9:57 am | by Fiona McCann

    Things have been a little hectic of late, but on the arts and culture front, I haven’t been entirely idle. I have, rather, been:

    Reading: Melvyn Bragg’s Remember Me. Autobiographical fiction is how Bragg describes this fictionalised account of his first marriage to artist Lisa Roche, who committed suicide after the marriage disintegrated and Bragg became involved with another woman who went on to become his second wife. It is an aching book, hurtfully honest and carefully placed in a defining British cultural shift.

    Watching: Having missed out the first time round, I’ve decided to cath up on the now eight-year-old HBO drama Six Feet Under. Just polished off the first series, and can now get all the cultural references I’ve been missing for the last decade or so. Frances Conroy is a revelation.

    Listening to: Sam Baker (thanks to a recommendation from Helen – cheers mrs!). Now you can too:

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  • Here’s to you, Ms Robinson

    June 4, 2009 @ 9:42 am | by Fiona McCann

    American author Marilynn Robinson has won the 2009 Orange Prize for fiction, for her third novel, Home. Having recently read both Housekeeping and Gilead, I am new to the joys of Robinson, but find her books unfold with a slow and moving grace. Gilead, at first, was a struggle. I’m out of the habit of letting things happen at such a pace, of contemplating life with that pause and measure that seems from another generation. But Gilead made it so, slowed me down, had me reflect, and gave up such moments of sweet, human beauty that I was converted. Housekeeping offered its own joys and pleasures, characters and images that will stay with me ever like a long, night-time walk across  train tracks over a dark, inviting river. And now to Home, which picks up the story of Jack Boughton, who also appeared in Gilead, and was described in this newspaper’s review as “charged with a gritty, hard-won hope. Robinson insists on the impossibility of love yet celebrates its manifestation on every page in the small, exquisite gestures of grace her flawed characters manage, in their failure, to bestow on one another.” To read Mary Morrissy’s review of Home in full, click here.  I need to find a quiet space to read it, but welcome comments from any of you who have.


  • Dublin Writers Festival

    June 3, 2009 @ 12:22 pm | by Fiona McCann

    We have lift off thanks to a generous and charming reading from Seamus Heaney (who last night admitted himself that he has turned seventy “many, many times in the past few months”) at the National Concert Hall yesterday.  Tonight brings further treats, with Ed O’Loughlin, Aifric Campbell and Peter Murphy reading at 6 p.m. in the Project and Simon Schama at 8.15 in Liberty Hall. Dublin will be awash with writers! Plus ca change. . .

    More information about writerly shenanigans here.  Reports, reviews and recommendations all welcome on this blogness. More of the Festival anon, when this Bear comes up for air.

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