A letter from the Count

Courtesy of the Guardian NewsBlog. It’s a fantastical idea for a blog (even if Pepys’ diary got there first) – Jonathan Harker’s Journal (Kept in Shorthand) Pete Baker

Hunter S Thompson

The writer, and one of the pioneers of New Journalism, Hunter S Thompson shot himself dead last night at his home in the Colorado mountains. He was 67. Always controversial, the author of Hells Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, among others, was still able to produce an occasional burst of high octane writing when suitably riled. A collection of his many letters The Proud Highway was published in 1997.The Guardian …

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On Bullshit

Via Ciarán, who hat-tips Crooked Timber. Truly a book for our times, On Bullshit written by emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton Harry Frankfurt, and based on this article, is wonderfully reviewed here in the New York Times, including this quote – The bull[shit] artist.. cares nothing for truth or falsehood. The only thing that matters to him is “getting away with what he says”.. hmm.. sound familiar? Pete Baker

Trimble: the slow pace of reconciliation

Frank Millar’s first full length book (Newshound) is, in effect, a lengthy interrogation of David Trimble a man whose name will be for ever associated with the Belfast Agreement. In accordance with his reputation as a journlalist, Millar is patient and thorough, and spares his subject no blushes. Over the next few days, I’ll be teasing out some of the highlights of the book, drawn from a series of exhaustive interviews over the summer of 2004.For many nationalists of all …

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An indispensable oeuvre

Seamus Heaney salutes Patrick Kavanagh, and a new Collected Poems, in today’s Guardian Books. Edited and introduced by Antoinette Quinn, Kavanagh’s biographer and best advocate, [the new Collected] should help not only the English critics but the whole English-speaking crowd to read Kavanagh with new regard and maybe even to start believing in him. In Heaney’s view, it’s a vindication of Kavanagh’s indomitable faith in himself and in the art that made him so much more than himself Pete Baker

Potter to live.. for now

Well, at least until the next book. For our younger readers and older nerds (you can decide for yourselves which category you fit into), the sixth and penultimate (as far as we know) book in the Harry Potter series – The Half-Blood Prince – will go on sale on 16 July 2005.. announced via a coded message no less.. no news, yet, on when the gaeilge version will hit the shelves. Pete Baker

“Wee blue blossom” and a tale from the Shankill Road.

The Belfast Telegraph ran a feature by Neil Johnston on what was known as the “wee blue blossom”, Flax and it’s huge role in the changes in the North East corner of Ireland to announce the release of a book “The Making Of Ulster Linen: Historic Photographs Of An Ulster Industry”, by Peter Collins. Modern Belfast is shaped by the boom in the linen industry which was to a great extent only possible because of the collapse of the Lancashire …

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Suggestions

Socks and ties, booze and sweets. Standard presents. This year I’ll be buying books as presents. While I appreciate that Amazon and the other big companies have revolutionised the purchase of books, I thought it might be useful to share some favourite sites and a useful tool for locating those hard to find books from the past.So three specific small companies, all Irish and all giving excellent service, and a Bookfinding site. One small point. Some US sites only ship …

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Knickers ahoy!*

The Guardian Review consistently attracts articles by quality writers and today’s edition has a double review by Joseph O’Connor of two books relating to the Master and Commander of high-seas’ literature, Patrick O’Brian (born Patrick Russ). First on the captain’s table is The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey, a “clutch of sketchy pages” that O’Brian completists will snap up and, for dessert, a biography by the author’s stepson Nikolai Tolstoy. (* Thread title shamelessly pilfered from the Guardian article) …

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A seasonal diversion

Apropos nothing, but this is going on my christmas list. As reviewed in The Guardian – How to Keep Dinosaurs by Robert Mash.The Guardian review begins – “Who could resist a handbook about potential pets that has a little symbol for ‘likes children’ and a separate one for ‘likes children to eat’. Who could not warm to warnings that private owners of Deinonychus and Velociraptor are legally required to trim their pets’ disembowelling claws?” One dinosaur’s description reads as “agile, …

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A 21st-century seanchaithe

The Observer’s Literary Editor, Robert McCrum, on the rumours and truth that have surrounded the author Desmond Hogan. Hailed as one of Ireland’s finest writers in the 1980s and early 90s and admired by many other writers, including Ted Hughes and Colm Tóibín, Hogan dropped below the literary world’s radar in the mid 90s in what seemed a restless quest for solitude but is set to re-emerge with a new collection of short stories next year, Winter Swimmers: New and …

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The Transformation of Ireland

In The Guardian, Carroll Professor of Irish History at Oxford University, Roy Foster favourably reviews Diarmaid Ferriter’s recently published The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000 and predicts it “will be an influential book” as well as being “a remarkable achievement” in itself.As well as commending Ferriter for his analysis of the enormous changes, both social and economic, Foster, in particular, points to Ferriter’s “judicious and empathetic” approach in dealing with the experience of Northern Ireland as part of the larger Irish …

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Booker Prize 2004

The shortlist for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2004 has been announced. Included in the shortlist of 6 is The Master by acclaimed Irish author Colm Tóibín – whose literary output includes the previously shortlisted The Blackwater LightshipAs well as Colm Tóibín, the shortlist includes David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Achmat Dangor’s Bitter Fruit, Sarah Hall’s The Electric Michelangelo, Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty and Gerard Woodward’s I’ll go to Bed at Noon. In addition to the judges’ prize …

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A Big Con?

A little later than intended but still a useful antidote to the party politics (possibly), a characteristically spiky interview with The Guardian has Roddy Doyle following on from his ‘blasphemous’ view that Joyce “needed a good editor” and kicking hard against the stereotyping, and self-mythologizing, of the Irish people.After all, who, if we’re being honest, isn’t flattered at the notion that we spring from, and into, a culture rich in musical and literary heritage and never mind how many truly …

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Rebel columns…

Danny Morrison‘s latest book Rebel Columns is a compendium of his journalism, written for a range of newspapers, including the Guardian, the Irish Examiner, and the Andersonstown News.It’s reminiscent of other press gleanings like those of David McKittrick and Eammon Maillie, except that Morrison makes no pretense that his work is objective. He is unabashed in his role of political columnist. It provides a useful insight into the last six or seven years, as seen from a mainstream Republican point …

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