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Profile for John L. Murphy

California-born. Irish parentage. Teaches humanities. Reviews widely. Reads often.

Latest posts from John L. Murphy (see all)

John L. Murphy has posted 12 times (0 in the last month).

Fergal MacIonnrachtaigh’s ‘Language, Resistance & Revival’; Book Review

Fri 20 December 2013, 4:44pm

Tweet What motivates families with little money and often no upbringing in their ancestral language to send their children off to schools to be taught in it? Why would prisoners, English-speaking from birth, teach each other that challenging language, given few resources and violent retribution? What links these two communities of activists, in the context […] more »

Eamon Carr’s ‘Deirdre Unforgiven’: Book Review

Fri 15 November 2013, 5:07am

Tweet As a musician and poet, Éamon Carr came to prominence in the Irish counterculture in the late 1960s, and as drummer for Horslips, he memorably created lyrics blending the Ulster Cycle and other Celtic tales into hard-charging or softly lilting music. Now, he returns to these inspirations, but, in the intervening decades, the impacts […] more »

Tony Bailie’s ‘A Verse to Murder’: Book Review

Tue 22 October 2013, 12:32am

Tweet Maurice Burns’ cover merits study–it’s well chosen and ties into this mystery within, as elaborated by an informant. The title, a play off of the ‘murder of crows’, echoes in the name of Barry Crowe, a Belfast journalist (or is it ‘sleazy tabloid hack’?) pursuing the backstory behind the sudden demise, apparently by auto-asphyxiation, […] more »

‘To the winds our sails: Irish writers translate Galician poetry’: Book Review

Wed 25 September 2013, 1:17am

Tweet This 2010 anthology collects five poems each from ten Galician women. Irish poets translate four per poet from an English-language crib, with the remaining one rendered into Irish itself. The results reveal some of the revived enthusiasm and energy emanating from this northwestern corner of Iberia, with its alleged ancient ties to the Celtic […] more »

Colin Broderick’s ‘That’s That’: Book Review

Tue 6 August 2013, 9:22pm

Tweet While the phrase popularized by Seamus Heaney ‘whatever you say, say nothing’ endures as a code for Northern Irish character toughened by the Troubles, Colin Broderick’s telling of his childhood reveals the language unspoken. He gives us a glimpse at those in the IRA who were never by necessity singled out by their supporters, […] more »

Wes Davis’ ‘An Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry’: Book Review

Thu 18 July 2013, 11:07pm

Tweet While modern, this anthology’s not only modernist in scope; Davis in helpful prefatory essays brings on about fifty poets and gives each perhaps twenty selections. He frames this with a few unobtrusive (if too scanty for a less-informed readership I assume may be often outside of Ireland) endnotes and a helpful, if truncated general […] more »

‘The Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1941-1956′: Book Review

Sat 1 June 2013, 10:35pm

Tweet This second volume of letters ‘having bearing on my work’ elegantly compiles Samuel Beckett’s postwar correspondence. The often pleading, imploring frustration of a struggling Irishman trying to land a publisher for his poems and tales has faded. Postwar, Beckett returns to Paris and then goes away to Ussy-sur-Marne to confront himself–and to create his […] more »

Manchán Magan’s ‘Oddballs: A Novel of Affections’: Book Review

Sat 4 May 2013, 9:26pm

Tweet A skilled chronicler in travel narratives and documentaries of those who wander the fringes, Manchán Magan’s debut novel follows four characters on the fringe. Two of them, teenaged Rachel and her quasi-aunt Charlotte, collide after a long estrangement in New Hampshire, and take off on Charlotte’s Wiccan pilgrimage to ye olde England of, as […] more »

Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr’s ‘Black Against Empire’: Book Review

Mon 15 April 2013, 7:09am

Tweet Certainly, after the quick rise and repression of the Occupy Movement, this study on an earlier radical faction who advocated more violent urban occupation and resistance merits reflection. Joshua Bloom (UCLA) and Waldo E. Martin, Jr (UC Berkeley) collaborate to present a study which relies not on oral interviews or ‘retrospective accounts’ colored by […] more »

Tim Robinson’s ‘Connemara: A Little Gaelic Kingdom’: Book Review

Sun 24 March 2013, 12:04am

Tweet While the last published of this trilogy, Robinson tells us first off that this is meant to be the second installment. It nestles into the southern Connemara coastline. This Cambridge-trained mathematician turned Connacht cartographer tracks down its traditional place names and wanders in the lore and the landscapes of these locales near his Roundstone […] more »

Latest comments from John L. Murphy (see all)

John L. Murphy has commented 4 times (0 in the last month).

  1. Comment on Colin Broderick’s ‘That’s That’: Book Review
    on 10 August 2013 at 10:23 pm

    At Slugger by editorial policy I am allotted 600 words for review and as it is I was eighty over; suffice to say this like any memoir on this subject defies facile summation in a few paragraphs. Logging in late to this, and examining the book again, I see I conflated a pair of unarmed deaths of others Colin knew with those shot at Loughgall, so I have edited my review. Apologies for any confusion: the death toll adds up quickly in a few pages. Reading the book should disabuse any one of supposed resemblances by the author or reviewer to the naive vision or heroic poses manufactured by crafty John Ford.

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  2. Comment on Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr’s ‘Black Against Empire’: Book Review
    on 23 April 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Rory, both points taken. I am limited by Slugger to 600 words for a review, so I opted for the personal touch and it may be too much so in that paragraph. Ron Karenga was an activist and professor in Long Beach CA who founded US, who turned out to be a rival black nationalist organization to the Panthers; he also is credited with the invention of Kwanza[a] (the authors in their book twice use the spelling I did in the review) in 1966. US literally fought it out by gunfire with the Panthers at UCLA in 1969 to deadly results, so this episode reverberated for me as a student years later, “next door”.

    I agree with your comment about Kwanzaa vis-a-vis holidays and legends; this review in this aspect is pitched more from my own perspective, although I tried to connect it in the short space to the Irish civil rights reverberations. Thanks for both remarks…

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  3. Comment on Kevin Myers’ ‘Watching the Door’: Book Review
    on 4 November 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Dorothy Macardle was from a brewing family, and she spent ten years on what was regarded as the Fianna Fáil version of official history, perhaps a bit unfairly. In the 1999 reprint (nothing added, but from the second rev. ed, of 1965, reissued by Wolfhound Press, Dublin) of this thousand-page plus tome, Terry DeValera has a brief preface, insisting on her independence of thought in terms of Dev’s own strong-minded positions. She also wrote fiction and plays early on, and she represented Dev’s paper the ‘Irish Press’ at the League of Nations. She was from Dundalk, was jailed for republican activism, and was in the service of the Cause 1916-23. She died in 1959.

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  4. Comment on Kevin Myers’ ‘Watching the Door’: Book Review
    on 3 November 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Hi all–I reviewed on Amazon & my blog a while ago Malachi O’Doherty’s ‘Telling Year’ as well as ‘I Was a Teenaged Catholic’ and ‘Empty Pulpits’; I admired his ‘Trouble with Guns’ way back. In my original blog review (5-5-11) of ‘Watching’, 1500 words, I briefly compared Myers with O’D’s 1972 account.

    I knew of the reputation of Myers (in reference to his stance on the ‘ra as well as the odd duck Francis Stuart regarding that ‘worm in the rose’ libel fracas) from reading his journalism before opening this. I decided to give it a fair go, without prejudice, and despite some self-aggrandising moments, which Myers himself acknowledges more or less, I tried to convey in the limited space my reactions. My reviews attempt to convey my stance without getting bogged down in partisanship, no easy feat on such topics as this.

    I look forward to overcoming my ‘distance’ from the fracas and submitting more (eclectic, too) book reviews to Slugger soon.

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