Ireland


Mar 04 2013

The Shamrock Shakes of Irish Literature

Published by under Book Reviews,General,News,Travel

Last week, my brother-in-law, who moved to Boston last summer, asked me if McDonalds on the East Coast served up Shamrock shakes for Saint Patrick’s Day, like they did back in the Midwest. A Boston resident for over three years and a fan of–if not the fast food chain–that creamy mint green shake myself, I was ashamed to say I did not know. But I was able to tell him about Dunkin Donuts’ seasonal Irish Creme donut, a sugar coated bun filled with a creme not-quite-green but a shade less yellow than your traditional Boston creme. It’s nothing compared to their autumnal pumpkin donut, but as a novelty item, it’s not a bad way to get yourself primed for St. Patrick’s Day.

Of course, to get a true taste of Ireland, no one goes for the food. This month, we’ve got a range of Irish literature on display, writers who will give you a more accurate glimpse into Irish culture, landscape and cuisine–without the foul aftertaste of American fast food. We’ve got the classics: Yeats and Beckett and Joyce, and Flann O’Brien’s At Swim Two Birds. These guys are the Shamrock Shakes of Irish literature. You’ll want to pick them up again, year after year.

You’ve read Dubliners, but have you read Dublinesque, a new novel by Enrique Vila-Matas set in Dublin as the world of publishers, readers, and writers is losing its hold on Irish culture. The protagonist is a retired literary publisher, but the strong presence of Joyce and Beckett in this novel almost make them characters as well.

And if you’re looking for non-fiction set in Ireland, pick up Robert Kanigel’s On an Irish Island. Kanigel introduces the reader to the lost world of the Great Blasket, an island off the west coast of Ireland, renowned for its former communal life and preservation of the Irish language. Kanigel weaves together the island’s history with the colorful life of its local residents and visiting scholars.

Any of these books would go nicely with a pint of Guinness or, if you can find one out here, a Shamrock shake. Whether you’re looking for a guidebook, map, or simply some good armchair travel, we’ve got them, no artificial flavors added.

Read more: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No responses yet

Jun 16 2012

Happy Bloomsday

Published by under Book Reviews,General,Travel

For those of us who can’t travel to Dublin every June 16th for the annual celebration of Bloomsday, a new biography of James Joyce has been released in time for your local celebration of the genius behind Ulysses. Gordon Bowker’s James Joyce introduces us to the life models that inspired Joyce’s most famous characters, including Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom.

On June 16, 1904 James Joyce asked his to-be wife Nora on their first romantic outing. He chose to set the entire work of Ulysses on that day, a decision which has been commemorated every year since 1954 on the streets of Dublin with public readings in the squares and re-enactments of the novel’s most famous scenes. Because Ulysses  is so geographically placed in the city, it is possible to follow the characters around each chapter, and many fans take guided tours through Dublin, tracing the route of Joyce’s infamous Leopold Bloom. For the brave and die-hard Joyce fans, a breakfast of organs starts off the celebrations. (Joyce’s character, Bloom, for whom the day is named, begins his June 16th with a tasty fried organ.)

I am one of those readers for whom a description of place, even a place name, is not enough. Once a work of literature has captured my imagination, I must travel to its source, to see the houses, streets, and landscapes that inspired my favorite scenes.  So in 2008 I flew to Dublin to participate in my first Bloomday celebration, and I’ve been marking the day ever since.

This year I had a quieter acknowledgement of Bloomsday. I didn’t even have it in me to walk to my local JP butcher, Meatland, to see if they had any organs on hand. Instead, I cooked up a “trinity” of three fried eggs, the breakfast Joyce’s other famous character, Stephen Dedalus, enjoys in the opening pages of Ulysses.  (I have had a long-standing fictional character-crush on Stephen for several years, and fried eggs are easier to stomach than fried kidney.) Then, after breakfast, as I do every year, I returned to the book itself for a private reading, and found myself suddenly transported without guidebook, map, ticket, or suitcase, onto the streets of Dublin.

Read more: , , , , , , , , ,

No responses yet

Jul 29 2009

Stopover Dublin – On the Beaten Path

Published by under Travel

This is Ireland by M. Sasek

This is Ireland by M. Sasek

After many online searches looking for the best price to get to Croatia, I discovered that Aer Lingus was a relative bargain compared to other flights. I decided that I would stay in Dublin, however, for a 32-hour layover. I had never been to Ireland before and I wanted to see as much as I could possibly see in my jet-lagged state.

Because I had such a short amount of time, I started to research as much as possible. There was no shortage of information available, but a lot of the information recommended places that “were off the beaten path,” or places to be with the “locals” and the “new, more cosmopolitan” Dublin. As I was reading one article that suggested visiting a great wine bar and eating at a wonderful Mediterranean-inspired restaurant I realized that I didn’t want to be “off of the beaten path.”

Continue Reading »

Read more: , , , , , ,

One response so far

Mar 17 2009

St. Patty’s Day Books! -or- Amateur Night Literature

Published by under Book Reviews

Pint-Sized Ireland --by Evan McHugh

Pint-Sized Ireland --by Evan McHugh

My telling green sweater and shamrock pendant will lead most to believe (correctly) that I have Irish in my blood. The people who (incorrectly) believe I want to be kissed because I’m Irish will be surprised to know that I scoff at most St. Patrick’s celebrations. Sure, I suppose it’s a great excuse to drink pint after pint of Guinness and wear bouncy green shamrock antenna things, but if you’re not really Irish, how can you know you’re doing it right?

For those who aren’t Irish (and I’m sorry about that) the best method for ensuring as traditional a St. Patty’s Day experience as possible is to do your homework. One may not be surprised to learn that there are many books about Ireland that center around drinking – both as an attraction for tourists and as a national past-time.

A Pint of Plain --by Bill Barich

A Pint of Plain --by Bill Barich

A few suggestions one can find on the Globe Corner bookshelves include the newly released A Pint of Plain: Tradition, Change, and the Fate of the Irish Pub. When author Bill Barich moved to Dublin he wanted to find a real Irish pub of his own–an old watering hole where the barkeep knew how to pour a Guinness and musicians gathered to play traditional Irish music. Barich discovered finding this was a more difficult task than he imagined.

Continue Reading »

Read more: , , ,

No responses yet

Nov 05 2008

British and Irish Literature

Published by under

Globe Corner Bookstore’s Shortlist of British and Irish Literature

This list is a wide range of fiction and nonfiction titles by authors who are British or Irish or are simply fascinated with all things British and Irish. From The Kingdom by the Sea to Trainspotting to Dubliners, the list is quite varied and could be a great start for aspiring Anglofiles and Guinnessophiles.

. . .

The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British
by Sarah Lyall
Sarah Lyall, a reporter for The New York Times, moved to London in the mid-1990s.  She came to terms with its eccentric inhabitants (the English husband who never turned on the lights, the legislators who behaved like drunken frat boys, the hedgehog lovers, the people who extracted their own teeth), and found she had a ringside seat at a singular transitional era in British life.

. . .

The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain
by Paul Theroux
After eleven years as an American living in London, the renowned travel writer Paul Theroux set out to travel clockwise around the coast of Great Britain to find out what the British were really like. The result is this perceptive, hilarious record of the journey.

. . .

Notes from a Small Island
by Bill Bryson
After nearly 20 treasured years in Britain, the author decided it was time to return to the United States. His last trip around the green and kindly isle resulted in a hilarious travelogue which coveys the glorious eccentricity of Britain.

. . .
. . .

Londonstani
by Gautam Malkani
Hailed as one of the most surprising British novels in recent years, Gautam Malkanias electrifying debut reveals young South Asians struggling to distinguish themselves from their parents’ generation in the vast urban sprawl that is contemporary London.

. . .

The Riddle of the Sands
by Erskine Childers
On a sailing trip in the Baltic Sea, two adventurers-become-spies discover a secret German plot to invade England. Written as a wake-up call to the British government, and praised as much for its nautical action as for its suspenseful spycraft, Childers’ 1903 novel is an indisputable espionage classic.

. . .

The Crofter and the Laird
by John McPhee
When John McPhee returned to the island of his ancestors–Colonsay, twenty-five miles west of the Scottish mainland–a hundred and thirty-eight people were living there. About eighty of these, crofters and farmers, had familial histories of unbroken residence on the island for two- or three-hundred years.

. . .
. . .

Young Irelanders
by Gerard Donovan
The stories in Young Irelanders shine a fresh light on the New Ireland and how the Irish are coping with its rewards and pressures: immigration, mid-life crisis, adultery and divorce, a lost sense of place and history, and of course, what to do with all that prosperity.

. . .

Trainspotting
by Irvine Welsh
An authentic, unrelenting, and strangely exhilarating group portrait of blasted lives in Edinburgh that has the linguistic energy of A Clockwork Orange and the literary impact of Last Exit to Brooklyn. Rents, Sick Boy, and the others are as unforgettable a clutch of rude boys, junkies, and nutters as readers will ever encounter.

. . .

Round Ireland with a Fridge
by Tony Hawks
A drunken bet led Tony Hawks to hitch-hike around the circumference of Ireland over one month–with a refrigerator in tow–which became what he calls the best experience of his life. Hawks shares his remarkable adventure that was emotional, inspirational, and downright silly at times.

. . .

McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland
by Pete McCarthy
In this amusing and affectionate homage to Ireland, McCarthy recounts his rollicking adventures around the Emerald Isle in search of his Irish roots.

. . .

Dubliners
by James Joyce
Joyce’s aim was to tell the truth: to create a work of art that would reflect life in Ireland at the turn of the last century and by rejecting euphemism, to reveal to the Irish their unromantic reality, which would lead to the spiritual liberation of the country.

. . .
Read more: , , , , ,

No responses yet