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Posts Tagged ‘ oscar wilde ’

Literary Parks In Dublin: Writers And Walks Galore

dublin

A leaflet that I picked up somewhere inspired the topic of this ‘out and about’ in Dublin post. I think I might have mentioned before that I tend to be a bit of a magpie where leaflets and brochures are concerned. Being on an email list is just not the same; the random quality of picking up stray information leaflets appeals to me more.

To return to the leaflet in question: produced by Dublin City Council and Dublin UNESCO, it highlights city parks with a literary connection. Now assuming that the wind and rain ever stop, this would be a great idea for strolling around on a weekend. A couple of the parks have obvious literary glitz (I will come back to those) but I did not realise that Sandymount Green had a W.B. Yeats connection. I used to go to Sandymount quite often a few years ago but obviously failed to spot the memorial bust erected in the park. Yeats was born at 5 Sandymount Avenue hence the sculpture in the green. Perhaps there is a house plaque too; I must check that out as well next time. Sandymount Village is a lively and attractive location to visit and is handy for a beach walk too so this could be a more strenuous literary pilgrimage than most. Continue reading

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The Selfish Giant

selfishgiant

The Selfish Giant opens under a clear night sky. Tethered horses bow their heads, content and calm beneath a frozen explosion of stars. The camera lingers, motionless. It is a mesmerising shot of expansive stillness, transforming a slab of inner city wasteland into a vision of pastoral peace. Ominously, the first cut of the film ruptures this peace with a blast of human rage.

These opening minutes are a sign of what is to come – brutal social realism laced with a visual poetry that lifts it out of the kitchen sink. The Selfish Giant’s success lies in its expert weaving of these two stylistic strands, leaving us with an icy depiction of underclass struggle, but one that gropes, hopes and hints toward an enduring human warmth amongst the debris of post-industrial West Yorkshire. Continue reading

News in Brief- Paisley Jnr Shot Down Over Racist Jibe As Pyjama Girls Among Celebration Of Iconic Dublin

pjsAt least January is over – only eleven months till Christmas – and with the months end comes the promise of Spring. Better weather, green on the trees and no chance of a pay rise this year for 10% of Irish retail staff. More than 17% surveyed also expect to cut bonuses and overtime as they struggle to meet the costs of overheads and a decrease in consumer demand. Continue reading

The Irish Film Industry Needs an Injection of Fresh Enthusiasm

There can be little doubt about it that when compared to our British neighbours, our film industry is pretty far down the pecking order. Ireland as a nation has traditionally been renowned for the arts over the decades, particularly with the likes of Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats and Bram Stoker hailing from these shores. But when it comes to the film industry, we are inconsistent and somewhat incompetent.

Roddy Doyle’s “The Commitments”, released in 1990, certainly put us on the map as the film was a hit over in the States. And for a while, it was looking good for us. “The Commitments” shattered any foreign delusion that Ireland was a place full of beautiful valleys, white horses, cottages and fighting leprechauns. Abandoning us in the dark-heart of recession-crippled 80’s Dublin, and riddling us with a dose of Doyle’s realism and dark comedy, the film was an instant success and gained world-wide attention for show-casting some of the most poverty-striken areas of Dublin at the time in all their bitter glory. Doyle penned two sequels to complete what would become known as “The Barrytown Trilogy”, and they were adapted into lesser sequels which proved to be successful at home, but abroad, they are virtually unheard of. And this is partially 20th Century Fox’s fault, as they owned the rights to “The Commitments”, which also meant that the family name Rabbitte was subject to copy-right. Subsequently, in the low-budget sequels, the family had only two children in “The Van” but were back to it’s full-house in “The Snapper”. Oh, and to make it all the more confusing, only one character maintained their role through all three films, and that was Colm Meaney as Jimmy Snr in “The Commitments” and “The Snapper”, but as Dessie Curley in “The Van”. Naturally, this generated a certain feeling of alienation with the films in regards to connection. However, the lesser-known sequels are equally as good as their triumphant older brother “The Commitments” who had cast an immense and oppressive shadow over them.

With the right funding, and the right minds, I sincerely hope that this country continues to produce the talent and films that we all know it’s capable of. We are a distinctive people on the frontier of Europe; the first-stop for the US on the way to this continent. So instead of losing our talented actors and directors to Britain and the US, the Irish film industry will hopefully receive a hefty dose of fresh enthusiasm with new young minds of this generation. With this in mind, I’d like to draw attention to a low-budget and unheard of film made back in 1998 called “Crush Proof”.

Now, it’s a pretty bad film, however, what I want to highlight here is what the film makers were trying to do, and how they almost managed to pull it off. In this brutal urban drama, 18 year-old Neal gets released from Mount Joy prison after spending a year behind bars. He heads to his girlfriend’s flat to see the baby boy he hasn’t held yet, and when she doesn’t let him in, he attempts to break the door down and she calls the Guards. Neal’s not even out half an hour and already it looks like he could be going back in, and when he robs a mobile phone, he only makes things worse. He rejoins his gang of horse-loving misfits and thugs and after killing the drug dealer who ratted him out and got him locked up, the gang goes into hiding in the Wicklow mountains where they’ll confront the situation, and themselves, head-on. It’s a very grim and realistic depiction of modern-day Ireland. However, the dialogue is surprisingly bland and the script has plot-holes the size of the Grand Canyon. The editing gives off the impression that no care was taken in the editing room and the scenes were all just mashed together in parts. But at the heart of it all, we have some very rough, and realistic performances. Darren Healy – where did he ever go? – is superb as Neal. It’s such an anger-driven performance. He’s the epitome of adolescent angst, social isolation, and essentially a sad testimony as to when people generally get stuck in a rut, so to speak, many just continue to spiral downwards towards self-destruction. The title is derived from a speech made by Neal in the pub when he describes the North-Side Dubliners as the original breed and ‘Crush Proof’.

We are a nation socially built on verbal abuse and banter, and this generally rings through in many of the dark comedies that have hailed from here in the past ten years. “Intermission” and “The Guard” are two fine examples of brilliant modern Irish film making. “Intermission” exhibited some of the finest Irish acting talent available in 2003, with Cillian Murphy, Colm Meaney and Colin Farrell in lead roles. It was a charismatic and pulsating directorial debut from John Crowley, who was genius in his employment of Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” tactics as we have a motley crew of characters in the film portraying their lives and the events which shape them, and subsequently interlinks them with the other characters. We have a corrupt cop, a violent scumbag, two losers who work in a supermarket, a pessimistic young lady with a moustache, a bank manager who has left his wife for a younger woman, and his aforementioned wife in search of a bit of excitement following him abandoning her. “Intermission” is a sharp, honest and inglorious look at Irish culture, and the characters that exist in every society. It’s a fast-paced film; very brutal and absolutely hilarious.

“Intermission” was probably the best dark comedy Ireland had to offer until “The Guard” in 2011. Brendan Gleeson – who was a teacher before picking up acting in his thirties – plays a corrupt, acid-licking, pessimistic, whore-loving, overweight and crude Guard living in the immense wilderness of Connemara, Co. Galway. Don Cheadle stars as the FBI agent sent to Ireland to instruct the authorities on a suspected international drug-ring operating from within Connemara. Unfortunately for him, he is paired up with Gleeson in a poor man’s “Lethal Weapon”. We’ve had our share of horror films as well – and pretty bizarre and unique ones at that. “Isolation” (2005) set on a rural Wexford farm, was as gruesome as it was welcoming. And 2008’s “Shrooms” set in the Wicklow Mountains was pretty good too.

Despite these examples – there are many more, of course, but hopefully I’ve named some of the best – there does indeed appear to be a certain lack of consistency and drive within the Irish film industry at the moment. Films that are made on these shores tend to have little, if any, major publicity. Irish film makers need to be concentrating on low-budget productions, in my opinion. And I say this in regard to the indie boom in the US during the 1990’s. A pandemic that continues to this day, in which many cult favourites today are destined to be classic-status in a few decades time. Irish film-makers need to be aiming for this.

New Organisation Aims To Showcase Irish Talent

It’s been said that Ireland has produced some of the most beautiful and profound works of literature in the world, and with writers such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Bowen and Joseph O’Connor part of our literary past, it’s hard to disagree. ‘Under Thirty’, a new non – profit organisation, hopes to add to that reputation by inspiring a new generation of writers.

Specifically aimed at Irish writers between the ages of 16 – 30, the organisation which was set up in September by Dr. Stephen Doherty, aims to showcase Irish fiction at home and abroad. ‘Under Thirty’ is made up of a group of expert panellists and provides a platform for young writers to have their work published and critiqued by experienced peers.  The most promising submissions are published in the group’s bi – annual journal which will be distributed as an e –book and a printed book throughout Ireland, the United States and Australia.

‘It’s quite experimental and it’s not something that has really been done before within the creative writing world’, explains Dr. Doherty, who is an author and a lecturer at Dublin City University.

‘It came from talking to young writers who were struggling to have their work read, and I thought it would be an interesting idea to set up a organisation where people can submit their work, get constructive advice and have a chance to be published.’

At the moment the organisation has fifty panellists from a mixture of professional backgrounds; they include Irish Times journalist – Tim O’Brien, author – Yvonne Cassidy, literary scholar – Professor Margaret Kelleher and historian/ author – Turtle Bunbury.  All the organisers and panellists work voluntarily to ‘review submissions, provide feedback and encouragement to the country’s aspiring writers.’

Valerie Sirr, winner of the Hennessy New Irish Writer award in 2007 and writer for the Irish Times, outlined her view on the initiative – ‘I think it’s a great idea to reach young writers. I wish it had existed when I started out.  I hope my own input will be of benefit to young writers because it’s a great feeling to see new writers develop and in my experience they often come on in leaps and bounds with the right guidance’.

The most outstanding contributor will be awarded with a prize of either, a creative writing scholarship or a writing retreat which will be funded by eBook and book sales. Plans are in place to have the journal put together in December with the finished product ready for sale in the run up to Christmas.

‘The group is a non profit organisation with the idea essentially based around people being generous with their time. There has been a great reaction so far and I’d encourage anyone who is interested to submit their work before the November deadline’, says Dr. Doherty.

Currently ‘Under Thirty’ is only open to Irish writers based at home and abroad but organisers are optimistic that if interest continues it will expand to the ‘UK and USA, and include younger writer’s as well’.

The deadline for this year’s submissions is midnight the 7th of November. Further details are available on the website http://under-30.org/ or join the conversation on Twitter -www.twitter.com/underthirty  and Facebook – www.facebook.com/underthirty.

By Luke Holohan

A Difference of Opinion, Unresolved

Two prolific writers have left us in as many days this week. On Monday Maeve Binchy passed away from a short illness and many have written of her delightful character and steady literary output, culminating in some 15 novels. I have been assured of her prodigious ability in the fiction genre and quality of her narrative but, alas, I feel somewhat ashamed at my ignorance of her work. She was native to my own Ireland; you could not enter a bookshop without noticing Binchy alongside Banville on the fiction shelf.

The other was an American and he passed away on Tuesday at the ripe age of 86. Gore Vidal was at first an author of novels but he could turn his hand to any production literary. His prolific career spanned over 60 years and he chalked up tens of novels, numerous plays, screenplays and a phenomenal number of essays. His first major novel that earned attention in the literary world was The City and the Pillar, a ‘coming out, coming of age’ novel, dedicated to Vidal’s first love interest Jimmy Trimble. Trimble died while serving for his country in World War 2 and it is widely known that Vidal was deeply affected by this and indeed said himself that he never could feel what he felt for Trimble for anybody else ever again. This early loss in Vidal’s life hardened him and from then on was not a man sentimentalism, but one of cynicism.

His literary output was enormous and is only overshadowed by his peer of the left, Noam Chomsky, but his most brilliant skill was that of the orator. He was a quick-witted, sharp-tongued and eloquent master of speech. His grandiloquence was rivalled only by the Anglo-American Christopher Hitchens. Indeed, a comparison that is not without its merit is the one proffered upon Vidal by some, who speak of him in the same breath of Oscar Wilde. It is true that he was very open about his sexuality, he was extremely witty and humorous and was a contrarian in every sense of the word.

As a contrarian it is only natural to have some who are hostile and some that are just downright resentful of you in the worst ways. Gore Vidal had very public disputes with a number of individuals like Norman Mailer, for instance. Following a number of taunts from Vidal, Mailer threw a glass of whiskey in his face and headbutted him. William Buckley threatened to ‘sock’ him on live television. He had a number of disputes but, later on in life, his main one was with the United States.

He was increasingly scathing about some aspects of the US. His main critique of the US was that the US was a modern-day Imperialist power; he called it a ‘militarized Republic’ and not a democracy. He was also critical of the education system stating on live American television that “We have the worst educated population of any first world country… your lack of education is the joke of the world”.

Many were bewildered by Vidal’s conspiratorial tendency later on in life. In an interview on War and Iraq he stated that the American people had more to fear from the Bush Administration than from Militant Islam. None were more bewildered than Christopher Hitchens. The pair met in the 70’s when Hitchens was working for the New Statesman. The two contrarians took to each other quite well, which is surprising because usually when two charismatic contrarians with fantastic ego’s collide, the result is almost always ugly.

They remained friendly and some years later Vidal phoned Hitchens and asked if he would be his heir when he passed away. Hitchens was duly flattered and gladly accepted. They’re saddening divorce, as it were, came following the September 11th attacks on the US, and the consequent decision of the US to invade Iraq. Gore Vidal was staunchly against such an invasion while Hitchens was vocally for it. He lost many friends over his support, Vidal being undoubtedly the most notable. Vidal then, publicly, insinuated his retraction of his proposal as Hitchens as his heir. Hitchens agreed.

Hitchens wrote an article entitled ‘Vidal Loco’ which suggested that Vidal’s old age, coupled with his incessant anti-US rhetoric and conspiratorial tendency had overshadowed the career of a great novelist, essayist and general all-round literary giant. Speaking positively of Vidal pre-21st century he said that he ‘had the rare gift of being amusing about serious things as well as serious about amusing ones’. The world seems a little less colorful since the parting of these two great contrarians, and it is even more bitter knowing they both passed away without resolving their only disagreement in life, the one that will separate them forever.

Maeve Binchy dies at the age of 72

16 Novels, more than 30 years of writing and endless fans is the legacy that Maeve Binchy leaves behind. The wonderful and much loved Irish author died on Monday after struggling with illness throughout most of her adult life. But even at 72 she had a  much younger spirit and loved life, saying that after a brush with death in 2002 she lived every day as if it were her last.

Her best known works are possibly Tara Road and Circle of Friends as Hollywood turned them into films, but all of her stories, no matter if in short form or packed up into the parcel of a novel, are about real life, no hyped up glam or only beautiful people fill her pages, but the struggle of everyday life, joy, love and friendship overflow from her work into the readers minds and heart.

She didn’t start out as a writer but graduated UCD (University College Dublin) and became a teacher. But Maeve wanted to see the world and in her long summer holidays she would travel, her shipping guide always at hand telling her which ship was going where. Wanting a change she gave up her secure teachers job and pension to become a free-lance writer and soon was called to be a woman’s editor at the Irish Times. With a steady flow of work coming in from London Maeve moved there in the mid seventies to the Irish Times office in Fleet Street and started working on her first novel Light a Penny Candle. Setting herself strict deadlines and word-counts she would get up at 5am every morning to write before work and her discipline and structure paid off when in 1982 her first book was published.

At the age of 37 she married children book author Gorden Snell and with the invention of fax and emails they both moved from London to Dalkey, where Maeve had grown up, and would sit side by side in their upstairs office and write for several hours every day. Very disciplined her motto was “if you want to write just do it” and shelves filled with her work all around the world prove her right.

Inspired by Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, Maeve Binchy created a whole new form of literature. One filled with women who learn to be strong and independent, who begin to trust in themselves, be who they want to be and love life, friends, family, home and most importantly themselves.

Outselling other great Irish writers like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Roddy Doyle, Samuel Beckett, W.B Yeats, Maeve was quietly proud always encouraging others to write as well. She paved a beautiful path for other female writers to follow and was always generous in sharing her experience with her colleagues.

Maeve Binchy will be missed, not only by the Irish nation but by her fans across the world, but she has one final gift to her readers, her last book has just been finished and will be published later this year.

She will be cremated in a private ceremony following removal on Friday morning to the Church of the Assumption, Dalkey.

“I don’t have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks.”

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy with one of her two beloved cats in her home in Dalkey
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