My Holiday Reading

Jessica McCarry is a librarian with Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Libraries


“My biggest problem when packing for my Big Exciting InterRailing Holiday was how many books I could reasonably bring. I was already dwarfed by an enormous rucksack that I staggered about underneath like a drunken snail. Necessity reduced me to a handful of cheap paperbacks that I discarded in hostels across Europe as I finished them, and only one lucky book survived the trip intact. That book was the Collected Short Stories of Saki (the pen name of the Edwardian writer Hector Hugh Munro). I was captivated by them from the start and kept the book close to hand for the longer train journeys, happy to reread bits of my favourite stories, occasionally taking breaks to daydream out of the window and people-watch.

“The stories themselves are dark and funny, witty and macabre, with an appealing subversiveness that’s lost none of its bite over time. Some feature the sarcastic and worldly Clovis, full of snide asides about polite society, a lot are about surreal intrusions into polite society – the sinister, attractive and feral Gabriel Ernst; Tobermory the cat, who is taught to talk with such devastating consequences; a hyena called Esme. The writing is elegant and vicious and always entertaining, and at the time provided an escape from the occasionally depressing reality that comes with habitually staying in the cheapest hostels.

“I still have that battered and dog-eared Penguin edition and sometimes I like to slip it into my bag for a trip on the Dart for old times’ sake.”

In conversation with Sara Keating

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