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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 17, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

    If you only do one thing this weekend – open up your ears

    Laurence Mackin

    Listen to: Dublin is one of only four cities that can call itself a Unesco City of Literature, and to celebrate this, along with something involving some beardy chap who had a thing about snakes, some of Ireland’s most famous writers are descending on Dublin’s Convention Centre for an evening of stories and song. Among those in attendance will be (deep breath) Seamus Heaney, Sebastian Barry, Dermot Bolger, Damien Dempsey, Roddy Doyle, Paul Durcan, Lisa Hannigan, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Paul Howard, Declan Hughes, Biddy Jenkinson, Neil Jordan, Cathy Kelly, Claire Kilroy, Paula Meehan, Eamon Morrissey, Barry McGovern, Joseph O’Connor, Mike Scott, Gerry Stembridge and Maeve Binchy, with Mike Murphy performing MC duties for the evening. That’s more literary heavyweights than most festivals can manage to muster. Tickets start at €18 plus booking fees, and for more information click here.

    See: It was a whipsmart piece of programming by the Grand Canal Theatre to book Swan Lake, given all the hoo-hah around Darren Aronofsky’s so-so film – and the early reviews have been very positive, even if the production tampers with the original storyline. Tickets are allegedly sold out despite an extra night being added (at the time of writing, Ticketmaster’s website wasn’t processing sales for some reason) though there are several on Ebay and toutless.com – definitely one worth taking a punt on, and guaranteed to be more satisfying than watching Natalie Portman bursting into tears for a few hours.

    Catherine realised with horror she would never be able to sell a house without proper windows

    Watch: From the classically old to the brand spanking new: the Abbey is staging some quality new writing in the form of The Passing, Paul Mercier’s new work, which is playing in repertory with a companion piece, The East Pier. The work might be new, but the themes are all-too familiar: in The Passing, a family attempts to sell a house haunted by memories and history, and struggle to move on from their home and history. In The East Pier, two successful careerists reminisce over their passed romance. A clever two-hander that should strike a chord with nearly any audience member then.

    Read: There seems to be a strong seam of novels coming out at the moment that have political overtones. That is not to say they are overtly political, but rather that their narratives and characters move against contemporary, volatile backgrounds. In their own way, they are proving to be as informative and effective as many of their non-fiction counterparts. Anatomy of a Disappearance is one such novel. The author, Hisham Matar, was born in New York to Libyan parents and spent his childhood in Tripoli and Cairo. In this book, a young boy, Nuri, is distraught at the death of his mother, and the hole in his world is only filled with the appearance of his father’s new, young wife, who is as close to Nuri in age as she is to his father. Nuri wrestles with his conscience and struggles to understand his emotions, and the innocence and fragility of his identity are beautifully illustrated by Matar. However, roughly half-way through the book, Kamal, Nuri’s father, is kidnapped and events kick into a much higher, frantic gear, and bring this novel to a level above many of its peers. As shards of Kamal’s history, his identity as a loyal monarchist and his dealings with officials-in-exile are offered up in curt paragraphs, Nuri struggles to make sense of his identity, and his impulses. This is all handled in such a controlled fashion by Matar, it makes every sentence essential and the political upheaval is merely sketched, not superfluously, but with just enough detail to lend an air of menace from an enemy that is never seen directly.

    That’s our brief selection for the weekend that is currently in the kitchen looking for a cup of tea. And if you can’t be bothered leaving the house to sample a bit of culture, here’s a link to brighten up your weekend. French street artist JR wants to use art to change the world, and this is his Ted pitch about how he plans to do it. Funny, charming and just a little bit brilliant.

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    • That Irish Writer’s event seems really interesting . I got into to reading Declan Hughes’s Ed Loy Detective Series last summer after reading a review of his latest “City of Lost Girls” after I returned to America from Dublin. I read the entire series (5 books) from the May 30th to August 6th. i realize that Declan Hughes is originally a playwrite, but I wish he would write another in the Ed Loy Series. One on my guilty secrets is Maeve Binchy’s “Circle of Friends”.

      In reference to Swan Lake, our local youth ballet troup is also performing it. Gee, I think the movie was the start of a trend.

    • a.commenter says:

      I would like to recommend Dermot Healy for anyone who has not read him…in particular ‘The Goat’s Song’ and his autobiography heartbreakingly evocative ‘The Bend for Home …for me at least the title alone evokes the emotion I felt on the final stretch of road when I knew I was at last home…sob! And the bus will not think you are reading a book written for young women!

    • a.commenter says:

      Curiouser and Curiouser…
      Apropos of nothing at all I mention Dermot Healey …. and the next thing there is a review of his new novel …which I can’t wait to read…and a letter to the Irish Times from another of the modern School of great Irish writers Eugene McCabe…how bleedin’ weird is that…?
      .What I want to know is where Eugene McCabe teaches writing workshops and then I want tot book a place…

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