Raymond Carver called it “smoked-glass prose”, writing that is blurry or not clear in sentiment. It is the downfall of many novice writers, and som(...)

Brendan Behan: described himself as a “drinker with a writing problem”. F Scott Fitzgerald poignantly wrote that “first you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you”. Photograph: Hulton Getty

Alcohol has played a central role in the creative lives of some of the most famous authors of the last few centuries. Lewis Hyde notes in his essay(...)

Among the best short story writers (top row): John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver; (Bottom row): Ron Rash, Flannery O’Connor and Richard Ford

And the rocket’s red glare. The bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there From The Star Spangled Banner (1814)(...)

David Butler’s latest novel City of Dis is published by New Island.

David Butler is the author of three novels: The Last European (Wynkin de Worde 2005); The Judas Kiss (New Island 2012); City of Dis (New Island 2014);(...)

‘Beloved on the Earth’ by composer Linda Buckley, above, is an evocative, subtly coloured piece that is consistently engaging

Charles Hazlewood’s words, at the National Concert Hall last Tuesday lunchtime, echoed down the week. Introducing the first of his four Great Symph(...)

Rachel Ries: in her early 20s, she ripped herself away from the ‘very, very conservative’ Mennonite community she grew up in and moved to New York

She loves Clonakilty black pudding, makes her own homemade jam to sell at concerts and, for people who helped to fund her album, hand-stitches (...)

Andrej Longo: the author of Ten (Harvill Secker, translated by Howard Curtis), a collection of short stories loosely based on the Ten Commandments

Andrej Longo is the author of Ten (Harvill Secker, translated by Howard Curtis), a collection of short stories loosely based on the Ten Commandment(...)

Willy Vlautin: “I just wrote for myself, as a way of keeping my head straight.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

There is a natural goodness about the American writer Willy Vlautin. In this era of superhype, in which many authors appear wary, impatient or (...)

The funeral of campaigner Christine Buckley yesterday at Church of St Therese, Mount Merrion, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Christine Buckley was “a woman of extraordinary courage,” said President Michael D Higgins yesterday. Speaking after her funeral at the Church of St T(...)

American author and literary critic Edmund White  in Paris. Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

The title should make admirers of Edmund White smile. Paris may well be White’s pearl, but he in fact is the real pearl, moving around inside an aloof(...)