Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests








Thursday, April 18, 2024

"Buxton Hill" by Kevin Barry - 10 Pages -included with Cork Stories - Edited by Madeleine D’Arcy & Laura McKenna - 2024 - An Irish Short Story Month Work

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"Buxton Hill" by Kevin Barry - 10 Pages -included with Cork Stories - Edited by Madeleine D’Arcy & Laura McKenna - 2024 - An Irish Short Story Month Work

 Irish Short Story Month XIII 2024

April to ?


I first read a short story by Kevin Barry 12 years ago during Irish Short Story Month in 2012.  Since then I have posted on more of his works, novels and Short Stories.

"Buxton Hill" by Kevin Barry is the 5th story from the collection Cork Stories - Edited by Madeleine D’Arcy & Laura McKenna - 2024 I have so far posted upon.  I intend to post upon all 18 Stories in the collection.

"Buxton Hill", set in Cork, is a first person account of a man, living in a house converted to a number of apartments.  He is single, is a writer of sorts but hardly a prosperous one. There is not quite a standard plot, much of the story is given up to his observations on the other people living in the house on Buxton Hill.

"J thought he was gone for good. October the 2nd since Toberty’s been seen on the premises. I have four bails of briquettes gone from his back kitchen. The evidence is long destroyed but he’ll have his suspicions and he has a brother in Cork jail for murder. I’m not saying that kind of thing runs in families. I mean runs-in-families is not an area any of us, around this place, want to get involved in. I could go to my father’s house. But there’s more to that"


Kevin Barry is the author of the highly acclaimed novel City of Bohane and two short-story collections, Dark Lies the Island and There Are Little Kingdoms. He was awarded the Rooney Prize in 2007 and won the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award in 2012. For City of Bohane, he was short-listed for the Costa First Novel Award and the Irish Book Award, and won the Author’s Club Best First Novel Prize, the European Union Prize for Literature, and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere. He lives in County Sligo in Ireland.

Whether you are just getting started in Irish Short Stories or have been an 

avid reader for fifty years, Cook Stories, published by Doire Press, will delight you with 18 Stories.

The best way to purchase this marvelous collection is via the Publisher Doire Press 

https://www.doirepress.com


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

"The Metaohor is Dead" - A Short Story by Carol Shields- 2 Pages -included in The Collected Short Stories of Carol Shields- 2004



This year, Buried in Print, a marvelous blog I have followed for over ten years,is doing a read through of the short stories of Carol Shields. I hope to participate fully in this event.


The more I read in the stories of Carol Shields the more grateful I am to Buried in Print for turning me on to her work. There are sixty some stories in the collection,it is my hope to read and post on them all in 2024.


Buriedinprint.com

"The Metaphor is Dead" is the 13th story by Carol Shields upon which I have posted. At only two pages it is the briefest work so far and one of the strangest.

There is no real plot, the entire story is given over to a professor holding forth on what he sees as the decay of literature.

"THE METAPHOR IS DEAD,” bellowed the gargantuan professor, his walrus mustache dancing and his thundery eyebrows knitting together rapaciously. “Those accustomed to lunching at the high table of literature will now be able to nosh at the trough on a streamlined sub minus the pickle. Banished is that imperial albatross, that dragooned double agent, that muddy mirror lit by the false flashing signal like and by that even more presumptuous little sugar lump as. The gates are open, and the prisoner, freed of his shackles, has departed without so much as a goodbye wave to those who would take a simple pomegranate and insist it be the universe."

I will give our professor the last word:

"Initially a toy of the literati,” the fiery professor cried, “the metaphor grew like a polyp on the clean chamber of poetry whose friendly narrative lines had previously lain as simply as knives and forks in a kitchen drawer and whose slender, unjointed nouns, colloquial as onions, became puffed up like affected dowagers, swaying, pelvis forward, into a Victorian parlor of cluttered predicates, where they took to sitting about on the embroidered cushions of metonymy and resting their metered feet on quirky mean-spirited oxymorons."


The Carol Shields Literary Trust Website has an excellent biography


https://www.carol-shields.com/biography.html

Monday, April 15, 2024

Nothing Surer" - A Short Story by Gráinne Murphy - 10 Pages - included with Cork Stories - Edited by Madeleine D’Arcy & Laura McKenna - 2024 - An Irish Short Story Month Work


 

 "Nothing Surer" - A Short Story by Gráinne Murphy - 10 Pages - included with Cork Stories - Edited by Madeleine D’Arcy & Laura McKenna - 2024 - An Irish Short Story Month Wor


Irish Short Story Month XIII- 2024

April to June 1


"Nothing Surer"   by Gráinnec Murphy, a resident of West Cork, is the 4th of the 18 short stories in Cork Stories I intend to read and post upon during Irish Short Story Month XIII.

"Nothing Surer" resonated for me in an almost painfully personal manner.

The story centers on the daily life of a widower. He lost his wife, 
his life was built around a few years ago, and now he tries to go on alone.

 "The world gone to holy hell and himself weakening by the new time. Still, if time was a curse, routine was the cure. Today just a day like any other. The ball of the hammer was solid against his heel when he sat on the edge of the bed. Shoes on, face the world. Ellen would phone in the afternoon, she’d said." 

He seems about 70, people treat him in a kindly but patronising fashion.

It is Halloween. When Aine was alive and Ellen their child young, he always carved a pumpkin.  Today he will visit her grave.

"The hill up to the graveyard was slow going but pleasant enough, with the seagulls perched on the rigging of the boats and shouting out everything they could see. Áine loved that sound, she told him, when they were walking home from a dance early in their courting. ‘The lonesomeness of it makes me feel dramatic,’ she said, linking his arm. The vodka and orange was showing on her. ‘Bury me where I can hear seagulls.’ ‘I will,’ he said, where another man might have thought her forward to be imagining her future with him in it.  The graveyard gate opened silently. He closed it. Opened it again."

My wife passed away long before she should have two years ago.

These lines are perfectly expressive of my feelings, my cherished hope to be reunited with my wife:

"He took out the brush and gathered the biscuit crumbs into a tidy heap in the corner, where the dustpan made short work of them. A man on his own had to keep the place right. He didn’t want Áine arriving back to collect his soul for heaven, only to be distracted by inches of dust on the mantelpiece. She would insist on cleaning everything, wasting precious minutes in the hereafter. Were the minutes still precious if they were infinite? He could be finding out."



"Gráinne grew up in Kilmichael, in rural county Cork. At university, she studied Applied Psychology, then forensic research, where she worked as a research assistant. Switching to human resources, Gráinne worked in training and development for several years before moving to Belgium with her family. While in Brussels, Gráinne began to work as a self-employed proofreader, primarily working with research consultancies in the areas of human rights and environmental issues. She returned to Ireland in 2016 and now lives near the West Cork coast with her family, where she continues to work as a copy editor.

Since 2012, Gráinne has been writing both long and short fiction. Her work often reflects her interest in family and identity, in those bittersweet moments where we have to stare life down and choose who we want to be.  

A winner of the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair 2019, Gráinne’s novels have been shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award 2019 and Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award 2019 and longlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2018 and Mslexia Novel Award 2017. Her short stories have appeared in the Fish Anthology 2020, RiPPLE Anthology 2017 and Nivalis 2015. 

Gráinne’s short story Further West, was longlisted for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award in May 2021.

Gráinne’s debut novel Where the Edge Is was published by Legend Press in September 2020. The Ghostlights was published in 2021, followed by Winter People in 2022. Greener will be published in Spring 2024. All are published by Legend Press."

From https://www.grainnemurphy.ie/writing/about-me

Whether you are just getting started in Irish Short Stories or have been an 

avid reader for fifty years, Cook Stories, published by Doire Press, will delight you with 18 Stories.

The best way to purchase this marvelous collection is via the Publisher Doire Press 

https://www.doirepress.com

Mel Ulm
The Reading Life
















Sunday, April 14, 2024

Stolen Words The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books by Mark Glickman - 2016 - 344 Pages


 Stolen Words The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books by Mark Glickman - 2016 - 344 Pages is a beautiful, brilliant book.  I offer my great thanks to Rabbi Glickman for sharing so much essential knowledge about Jewish traditions and the efforts of the Nazis to destroy Jewish Culture with us,

"Stolen Words is an epic story about the largest collection of Jewish books in the world—tens of millions of books that the Nazis looted from European Jewish families and institutions. Nazi soldiers and civilians emptied Jewish communal libraries, confiscated volumes from government collections, and stole from Jewish individuals, schools, and synagogues. Early in their regime the Nazis burned some books in spectacular bonfires, but most they saved, stashing the literary loot in castles, abandoned mine shafts, and warehouses throughout Europe. It was the largest and most extensive book-looting campaign in history.
 
After the war, Allied forces discovered these troves of stolen books but quickly found themselves facing a barrage of questions. How could the books be identified? Where should they go? Who had the authority to make such decisions? Eventually the military turned the books over to an organization of leading Jewish scholars called Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc.—whose chairman was the acclaimed historian Salo Baron and whose on-the-ground director was the philosopher Hannah Arendt—with the charge of establishing restitution protocols.
 
Stolen Words is the story of how a free civilization decides what to do with the material remains of a world torn asunder, and how those remains connect survivors with their past. It is the story of Jews struggling to understand the new realities of their post-Holocaust world and of Western society’s gradual realization of the magnitude of devastation wrought by World War II. Most of all, it is the story of people —of Nazi leaders, ideologues, and Judaica experts; of Allied soldiers, scholars, and scoundrels; and of Jewish communities, librarians, and readers around the world."  From Nebraska University Press  - the Publisher 

Most people know the Nazis burned Jewish Books but my guess is few know that they stole millions of books from Jewish collections and individuals. Their purpose was to use them to document their fantasies about Jewish plots and to place the works in a planned museum of Jewish culture to be built  after a victory which never happened.

Glickman describes Germany as a country that respected the power of books.  That is why they were so concerned to capture Jewish Books. Likewise he details the great importance of studying the written word in Jewish History as well as the widespread love of books in Eastern European and Russian Jewish communities.

He takes us way back in Jewish and German history and ends up  with his experiences teaching in a summer camp for teenagers on Jewish culture 

Rabbi Mark Glickman has served at congregations in Ohio, Washington State, and Colorado. He is the author of Sacred Treasure—The Cairo Genizah: The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic.











Friday, April 12, 2024

"Fragility" - A Short Story by Carol Shields - included in The Collected Short Stories of Carol Shields- 2004


"Fragility"- A Short Story by Carol Shields - included in The Collected Short Stories of Carol Shields- 2004
 

This year, Buried in Print, a marvelous blog I have followed for over ten years,is doing a read through of the short stories of Carol Shields. I hope to participate fully in this event.



The more I read in the stories of Carol Shields the more grateful I am to Buried in Print for turning me on to her work. There are sixty some stories in the collection,it is my hope to read and post on them all in 2024.


Buriedinprint.com

The Carol Shields Literary Trust Website has an excellent biography 




"Fragility" is the 12th Short Story by Carol Shields I have the great pleasure of reading.

As the story opens a couple married some twenty years are on a plane, flying over the Rocky Mountains on their way to Vancover..  They are moving there because the husband has been transferred, they are searching for a house to buy,   in January their son died at age 15.

It is not easy to bring a 20 year marriage to life in nine pages but Shields does it brilliantly.

"WE ARE FLYING OVER THE ROCKIES on our way to Vancouver, and there sits Ivy with her paperback. I ask myself: Should I interrupt and draw her attention to the grandeur beneath us? In a purely selfish sense, watching Ivy read is as interesting as peering down at those snowy mountains. She turns the pages of a book in the same way she handles every object, with a peculiar respectful gentleness, as though the air around it were more tender than ordinary air. I’ve watched her lift a cup of tea with this same abstracted grace, cradling a thick mug in a way that transforms it into something precious and fragile."

We follow them as a real estate agent shows them  numerous houses.


Like her other stories the prose is exquisite and the wisdom from a deep source.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman 1997 - 286 Pages


Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman 1997 - 286 Pages

 Alice Hoffman works I have so far read:



The Marriage of Opposites- 2015

"Everything My Mother Taught Me" - 2016

"The Book Store Sisters" -2022

The Foretelling - 2006

"Conjure" - 2014

Aquamarine- 2001

The Ice Queen - 2006

Property Of -1977

Skylight- 2007

The Invisible Hour 2023

Rules of Magic- 2017

Practical Magic is a captivating story about two sisters, Gillian and Sally Owens, who are descended from a long line of witches. Raised by their eccentric aunts in a small town in Massachusetts, the sisters  encounter prejudice and fear from their neighbors due to their family's magical heritage.   

The sisters attempt to live normal lives, but their family heritage and magical abilities keep them from fitting in. Gillian, the younger sister, is carefree and embraces witchcraft, while Sally, the elder sister, tries to suppress her magical side.

The novel explores themes of family, love, loss, and the power of female friendship. It's a delightful and heartwarming story that has become a modern classic.

The novel has also spawned several sequels, including The Rules of Magic (2017), Magic Lessons (2020), and The Book of Magic (2021). These books delve deeper into the history of the Owens family and explore the lives of other characters from the original novel.

Practical Magic has been adapted into a popular 1998 film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. I hope to see it in a few days 




Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Plentiful Country: The Great Potato Famine and the Making of Irish New York by Tyler Anbinder- 2024 - 430 Pages



 
Plentiful Country: The Great Potato Famine and the Making of Irish New York by Tyler Anbinder- 2024 - 430 Pages

Irish Potato Famine

1845 to 1852

An estimated one million Irish died and another one million emigrated- mostly to America with New York City as their point of entry

I have read numerous books on the impact and causes of The Irish Potato Famine. By far the best account I have read is in Plentiful Country: The Great Potato Famine and the Making of Irish New York on their occupational development, how they made a living and supported their families.

Migration to America was not cheap. First one had to book passage to England and then buy a ticket to America. This meant the poorest Irish could not leave. (About five percent of Emirates had their trips paid for by absentee landlords.) 

There were several classes of tickets, most travelled in steerage. The trip could take 30 days food had to be brought for the passengers trip unless they were in first class. Upon arrival a job and a place to live were of highest priority.

Anbinder explains the concept of "chain migration".. As soon as they could an emigrate,often a man, would send money back to his family for others to emigrate. An older arrival would help new arrivals find jobs. Some had valuable job skills , money to start a business and some nothing 

Anbinder details how the records of Emigrate Savings Bank allowed him to follow the working and personal lives of famine era Irish emigrants.  

The bank was founded in 1850 by 18 members of the Irish Emigrant Society, with the support of Archbishop John Hughes, purposed of the goal of serving the needs of the Irish community in New York City. The headquarters was located at on 49 Chambers Street in Manhattan.

Emigrant Savings collected extensive records of the arriving Irish immigrants to America, which were later donated to the New York Public Library and serve as valuable genealogical resources that are the core resource for Anbinder.

To open an account you had to supply your current address, your time of arrival in New York City, where you were from in Ireland, list your current occupation, any relatives you have living in New York or back in Ireland, your children and full data on any spouse you might have, Every time you made a deposit the bank updated your records. Most Irish lived in tenements without locked doors so they wanted bank accounts. Emigrate savings had only largely Irish employees and was very conservatively managed.

From the Publisher 

"A breathtaking new history of the Irish immigrants who arrived in the United States during the Great Potato Famine, showing how their strivings in and beyond New York exemplify the astonishing tenacity and improbable triumph of Irish America.
  
In 1845, a fungus began to destroy Ireland’s potato crop, triggering a famine that would kill one million Irish men, women, and children—and drive over one million more to flee for America. Ten years later, the United States had been transformed by this stupendous migration, nowhere more than New York: by 1855, roughly a third of all adults living in Manhattan were immigrants who had escaped the hunger in Ireland. These so-called “Famine Irish” were the forebears of four U.S. presidents (including Joe Biden) yet when they arrived in America they were consigned to the lowest-paying jobs and subjected to discrimination and ridicule by their new countrymen. Even today, the popular perception of these immigrants is one of destitution and despair. But when we let the Famine Irish narrate their own stories, they paint a far different picture.

In this magisterial work of storytelling and scholarship, acclaimed historian Tyler Anbinder presents for the first time the Famine generation’s individual and collective tales of struggle, perseverance, and triumph. Drawing on newly available records and a ten-year research initiative, Anbinder reclaims the narratives of the refugees who settled in New York City and helped reshape the entire nation. Plentiful Country is a tour de force—a book that rescues the Famine immigrants from the margins of history and restores them to their rightful place at the center of the American story. " 

Using data from the records of The Emirate Bank, Anbinder follows the life histories of numerous Famine Emirates. Many prospered others struggled to get along. Most no matter what way preferred America to Ireland. Anbinder traces the spread of the Irish through out the country,  

From Anbinder's conclusion 

"How had the Famine immigrants achieved this improbable success? First, notwithstanding the assertions of native-born Americans then and historians ever since, the Famine Irish were not overwhelmingly forced into menial day labor upon arrival. Only about half of the male Famine immigrants began their lives in America in these low-paying, perilous positions. For every Famine immigrant who had to take day labor or similar work upon landing in New York, there was another who arrived with desirable vocational experience—training as a craftsman, or experience operating a small business, or a background working as a clerk behind a desk or counter—that allowed them to find comparable jobs in Manhattan. Then, as now, Americans assumed that the immigrants who arrived on America’s shores must have been penniless paupers, the dregs of their homelands, when in fact such migrants have never made up a very large proportion of those who move to the United States. That is the case today, and that was the case for the Famine Irish, even though contemporaries failed to recognize that fact. Second, those who did start out as day laborers were hardly trapped in those positions. Forty-one percent of men whose first American jobs are best described as unskilled and who were still alive ten years later ended their careers higher up the socioeconomic ladder than where they began, and three-quarters of these social climbers finished their working days in white-collar occupations. Some became clerks, salesmen, or civil servants, but the vast majority (three out of four) opened their own business, running a saloon, grocery, or other retail enterprise. Skilled craftsmen were not trapped in their occupations either—thousands of them opened retail establishments like saloons and groceries, and still more started businesses related to their artisanal trade. To say that unskilled and artisan Famine immigrants “seldom rose from the bottom of American urban society,” as prominent scholars of the Irish experience in America have suggested for generations, is simply not true. Further evidence that the Famine immigrants had more control over their fates than previously understood is found in their savings accounts. The Famine refugees saved a lot more in those accounts than their native-born neighbors imagined. Leaving aside those who emigrated as children (and therefore had the advantages of an American education) as well as those who died before living for a decade in the United States, we find that male Famine immigrants living in New York or Brooklyn saved, on average, $463 in their accounts, equal to about $17,000 today (the median high balance was $291). Even if we take only the immigrants who started at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and never climbed any higher, the level of savings is still impressive."

Tyler Anbinder is an emeritus professor of history at George Washington University, where he taught courses on the history of American immigration and the American Civil War era. He is the author of three award-winning books: "Nativism and Slavery: The Northern Know Nothings and the Politics of the 1850s" (1992); "Five Points: The Nineteenth-Century New York Neighborhood that Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World’s Most Notorious Slum" (2001); and "City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York." Anbinder has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and served as the Fulbright Thomas Jefferson Distinguished professor of History at the University of Utrecht. His fourth book, Plentiful Country: The Great Potato Famine and the Making of Irish New York was published last month 

I hope to read his other books soon.

Plentiful Country: The Great Potato Famine and the Making of Irish New York is a wonderful book.

Mel Ulm








 

Thursday, April 4, 2024

"Advise and Sandwiches” - A Short Story by Pat O’Connor - from his collection People in My Brain - 2019 - An Irish Short Story Month Work


 Irish Short Story Month XIII - March to May 2024



"Advise and Sandwiches” - A Short Story by Pat O’Connor - from his collection People in My Brain - 2019 - An Irish Short Story Month XIII Work

Advice and Sandwiches. Short story; First published in Irish Independent November 2011. Available in the Hennessy New Irish Writing Anthology, New Island, c.April 2015.



As the story opens Julia has just left her office for lunch.  She is worried she will be fired soon, her results are good and her clients like her but things just feel wrong to her.  Her boyfriend just told her he has met someone “really exciting” and is moving on.  He seems to expect her to be happy for him.  She feels in strong need of some life directing advise.  Suddenly she sees a just opened sandwich shop sign  that intrigues her.


“A sign over the opening said Advice and Sandwiches, and a placard said Queue here - Advice from €5 - Gourmet Sandwiches free. The queue was the shape of a U, with a rope on little white poles to keep order. A burst of laughter rose from the crowd. It was a good-natured sound. Julie strode past. There was a cheer and clapping. She took a quick, grudging glance. People were saying ‘Aww’ like they were affected by something.”


As Julie waits in line she overhears some advise:


“A male voice called out: ‘I hate my job. What’ll I do?’ ‘Either make it so you like it, or else live cheaper, build up cash, then resign and look for a job you do like. €5. What you want to eat?’ ‘Aah… gimme a ham and cheese and tomato sandwich. No, a sub. A sub, please.’”


Now Julie is at the front of the line.  Somehow she is given just the advise she needs.


The advise given was funny and shrewd, kindly meant.


“‘My wife’s a bitch. What’m I goin’ to do about it?’ This was a cocky voice, his friends egging him on. ‘Go and ask her forgiveness for your own shortcomings. That’s €8. What you wanna eat?’ ‘Hey, I thought it was five euros a sandwich!’ ‘Sandwiches are free – read the signs. Advice starts at five euros and goes up from there. You got the eight euros?’


“‘What’s the best sandwich for someone who loves cats?’ ‘A shared sandwich. That’s €5. What you want?’ ‘Oh? Emm… chicken, some salt, light mayo.’ ‘On plain?’ ‘Plain.’‘Chicken, some salt, 

"Summary Literary Bio

Joint winner of the 2009 Best Start Short Story Competition in Glimmertrain.

Shortlisted for the Sean O’Faolain International Short Story Prize, 2010.

In 2011, shortlisted for the RTE Francis MacManus Award for radio stories, and won the Sean O’Faolain International Short Story Prize.

In 2012 shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award and the Fish Short Story prize.

In 2013 was longlisted for Over the Edge New Writer of the Year, and in 2014 for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award.

Radio play This Time it?s Different, was broadcast on 95fm as part of the Limerick City of Culture program, 2014.

In autumn 2014, he was one of eight International Writers in Residence in Tianjin, China.

My story Advice and Sandwiches was included in the 2015 Anthology of Hennessy New Irish Writing, which was published by New Island.

My collection of short stories titled People in My Brain published in November 2019.

Writer in Residence in Split, Croatia for month of November 2022."

From https://patoconnorwriter.com/









Until August- A Novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - first published 2004 - translated by Anne McLean




Gabriel  Garcia Marquez  won the Nobel Prize in 1982. Among his most famous works are One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera

Until August tells the story of Ana Magdalena Bach, a 46-year-old woman who leads a seemingly happy life with her husband and children. However, every year on August 16th, she travels to the island where her mother is buried and indulges in a one-night stand with a different man.

The novel explores themes of female desire, marital routine, and the search for meaning in life. It is a relatively short work, but it has been praised for its evocative prose and its complex portrayal of its central character. 

Until August" was originally intended to be a collection of four stories.
Márquez reportedly began working on the novel as early as 1997.






 

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

"A Love Letter in the Midsummer" A Short Story by Danny Denton -included with Cork Stories - Edited by Madeleine D’Arcy & Laura McKenna - 2024 - An Irish Short Story Month Work


 

Irish Short Story Month XIII 
March and April - 2024


A Love Letter in the Midsummer" A Short Story by Danny Denton -included with Cork Stories - Edited by Madeleine D’Arcy & Laura McKenna - 2024 - An Irish Short Story Month Work

Today's story by Danny Denton, a lecturer in creative writing at Cork University, is a delightful six page story within a story.

"That midsummer she wrote him a love letter from Leenane. But it was not exactly a love letter, more a sort of teleplay about King Kong and Godzilla sharing an apartment off Douglas Street, long after their various escapades in Japan and New York and across the world’s oceans. He’d kept the letter in his back pocket all evening, and when at last the pub was swept clean and wiped down and locked up, he walked along by Sullivan’s Quay and stopped on a riverside bench there. Taking out the letter, he felt that heavy compression of expectation in his chest. ...

Morning in the apartment. King Kong poked his dishevelled head out of the bedroom doorframe, taking in the scope of the kitchen and living area. ‘You cleaned up,’ Kong said. ‘Sorry.’ Godzilla sat at the table, browsing away on his laptop, his cup of tea to one side. ‘You’re grand,’ he consoled, not for the first time. Kong crossed to the kitchen on shaky legs and began the ritual of going through the cupboards, hanging out of them and grumbling, looking perhaps for something that wasn’t there. ‘How bad was it?’ he eventually asked. "

I really enjoyed this story.

Danny Denton is an Irish novelist, the editor of The Stinging Fly and a lecturer in creative writing at University College Cork. His first novel, The Earlie King & The Kid In Yellow, was published by Granta Books in 2018, and nominated for 'Newcomer of the Year' at the Irish Book Awards. Among other publications, Denton's work has appeared in The Stinging Fly, Southword, Granta, Winter Papers, The Dublin Review, Guardian, Irish Times and Big Issue.

Whether you are just getting started in Irish Short Stories or have been and avid reader for fifty years, Cook Stories, published by Doire Press, will delight you with 18 Stories.

The best way to purchase this marvelous collection  is via the Publisher Doire Press 

https://www.doirepress.com










Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle - 2009 - by Dan Senor and Saul Singer


 

Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle - 2009 - by Dan Senor and Saul Singer


"How has a small nation of 9 million people, forced to fight for its existence and security since its founding and riven by ethnic, religious, and economic divides, proven resistant to so many of the societal ills plaguing other wealthy democracies?

Why do Israelis have among the world’s highest life expectancies and lowest rates of “deaths of despair” from suicide and substance abuse? Why is Israel’s population young and growing while all other wealthy democracies are aging and shrinking? How can it be that Israel, according to a United Nations ranking, is the fourth happiest nation in the world? Why do Israelis tend to look to the future with determination and purpose while the rest of the West struggles with an epidemic of loneliness, teen depression, and social decline?nture capital investment as the US and thirty times more than Europe?" from dansenor.com


The central question of the book is: How is it that Israel, a country of only 7.1 million people, has been able to produce more start-up companies than much larger and more stable nations? The authors attribute Israel's success to a unique combination of factors, including:


A culture of immigration and immigration that brings together people from diverse backgrounds and skillsets.

A mandatory military service that instills discipline, teamwork, and leadership skills in young Israelis.

A strong emphasis on education and research and development.

A government that is willing to take risks and support innovation.

A close relationship between the Israeli military and the private sector, which has led to the development of many new technologies.


Saul Singer is coauthor of the bestselling book Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle. He is a former editor and columnist at the Jerusalem Post and has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other publications. Singer has given keynote speeches at innovation conferences around the world including Beijing, Sydney, Singapore, London, Madrid, Amsterdam, Oslo, Nairobi, and Sao Paulo. Before moving to Israel in 1994, he served for ten years as an advisor to US Members of Congress. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children.


Daniel Samuel Senor (/ˈsiːnər/; born November 6, 1971) is an American Canadian columnist, writer, and political adviser. He was chief spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and senior foreign policy adviser to U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the 2012 election campaign. A frequent news commentator and contributor to The Wall Street Journal, he is co-author of the book Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle (2009) and The Genius of Israel: The Surprising Resilience of a Divided Nation in a Turbulent World (2023). 






Monday, April 1, 2024

The Covenent of Water - A Novel by Abraham Verghese- 2023 - 720 Pages - An Oprah Book Club Selection


 
The Covenent of Water - A Novel by Abraham Verghese- 2023 - 720 Pages - An Oprah Book Club Selection

When I watched Oprah Winfrey's six minute presentation on her 101th book club selection I at once added it to my read very soon list.

Now I must thank Oprah for her brilliant remarks and Doctor Abraham Verghese for the ten years it took to write one of the very greatest novels I have ever read in the sixty plus years of my reading life.

The Covenent of Water centers on a family grappling with a strange curse:  at least one member in each generation seems destined to die by drowning.  This is particularly poignant considering their life unfolds in Kerala, a land defined by its backwaters, rivers, and Arabian Sea coast.

The narrative starts with a young girl, Mariamma, who is sent by boat for an arranged marriage to a much older widower.  Over time, Mariamma transforms into the family matriarch, overseeing a vast estate and earning the title "Big Ammachi."   The story then unfolds through the lives of her descendants, including a celebrated writer son and future generations who become physicians.

"The Covenant of Water is the long-awaited new novel by Abraham Verghese, the author of Cutting for Stone. Published in 2009, Cutting for Stone became a literary phenomenon, selling over 1.5 million copies in the United States alone and remaining on the New York Times bestseller list for over two years.

Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning—and in Kerala, water is everywhere. The family is part of a Christian community that traces itself to the time of the apostles, but times are shifting, and the matriarch of this family, known as Big Ammachi—literally “Big Mother”—will witness unthinkable changes at home and at large over the span of her extraordinary life. All of Verghese’s great gifts are on display in this new work: there are astonishing scenes of medical ingenuity, fantastic moments of humor, a surprising and deeply moving story, and characters imbued with the essence of life.

A shimmering evocation of a lost India and of the passage of time itself, The Covenant of Water is a hymn to progress in medicine and to human understanding, and a humbling testament to the hardships undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today. It is one of the most masterful literary novels published in recent" From Grove Press

Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, is Professor and Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor, and Vice Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the School of Medicine at Stanford University. He is also a best-selling author and a physician with a reputation for his focus on healing in an era where technology often overwhelms the human side of medicine. He received the Heinz Award in 2014 and was awarded the National Humanities Medal, presented by President Barack Obama, in 2015. 

Further biographical data is available on the Author’s website 

https://www.abrahamverghese.org



The Reading Life Review - March 2024 - Works Featured- Movies Streamed


 

The Reading Life Review - March 2024 - Works Featured- Movies Streamed - Future Hopes and P,lans


My March Reading 


1. Memoirs of Hadrian,A  historical novel by Marguerite Yourcenar, published in 1951 as Mémoires d’Hadrien. - translated  by  Grace Flick - 2005

2.Stepchildren of the Shtetl : The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800–1939 by Natan M. Meir.- 2020 - Nonfiction 

3. The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming – , 2019  -  by David Wallace-Wells - 320 Pages - Nonfiction 

4, Three Short Stories by Carol Shields 

5, Six Irish Short Stories 

6. A Story by Nancy Hale

7, A Story by Jhumpa Lahiri 

In March six of the featured writers were Women, five were Men.  Five writers were initially featured in March, three are deceased.

Home Countries of authors

1. Ireland - 6
2. USA  - 3
3. Canada -1
4. Belgium- 1




March Movies


1. The Favourite - A 2018 Film Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos- Starring Emma Stone, Olivia Coleman and Rachel Weisz

2. The Zone of Interest - Directed by Jonathan Glazer - Starring  Christian Friedel as Rudolf Höss -'Sandra Hüller as Hedwig Höss - 2024 Academy Award Winner for Best International Picture and Best Sound Design 

3. Poor Things - A 2023 Film Directed  by Yorgos Lanthimos - Starring Emma Stone (winner 2024 Academy Award for Best Actress), William Defoe and Mark Ruffalo

4, The Pianist is a 2002 biographical Holocaust war drama film produced and directed by Roman Polanski 
 with a script by Ronald Harwood, and starring Adrien Brody

5. The Creature from the Black Lagoon- 1954

6. Blazing Saddles- 1974 - directed by Mel Brooks 

7. The Wizard of Oz - 1939 - starring Judy Garland 

8.  Great Expectations- A 1946 Movie - Directed by David Lean - Starring Alex Guinness, John Mills, and Jean Simmons

9. Schindler's List - 1993 - Directed by Steven Spielberg - which stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler's Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern

Blog Stats 

7,601,916 Pages views since inception 

In March there was a total of 94,916 Page Views 

Home Countries of Visitors 

1. Hong Kong 
2. Singapore 
3, USA 
4. India 
5. Philippines 
6. UK
7. Canada 
8. Poland
9. Indonesia 
10. Ireland 


Sunday, March 31, 2024

Memoirs of Hadrian,A  historical novel by Marguerite Yourcenar, published in 1951 as Mémoires d’Hadrien. - translated by Grace Flick - 2005




Memoirs of Hadrian, A historical novel by Marguerite Yourcenar, published in 1951 as Mémoires d’Hadrien. - translated by Grace Flick - 2005

Marguerite Yourcenar 

Born: June 8, 1903, Brussels, Belgium
Died: December 17, 1987 (age 84 years), Northeast Harbor, Mount Desert, Maine, United States

In the long ago I visited Hadrian's Tomb.  I am glad now I have had the opportunity to read Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian.

The novel is written in the form of memoirs dictated by Hadrian, the Roman emperor, to his adopted grandson and successor, Marcus Aurelius. Hadrian reflects on his life, from his childhood in Spain to his reign as emperor. He discusses his military campaigns, his love affairs, his philosophy, and his legacy.

The novel is a meditation on power, love, and the meaning of life. It is also a portrait of a complex and fascinating man who ruled one of the greatest empires in history.

Hadrian reflects on his life, from his childhood in Spain to his rise to power as emperor. He discusses his military campaigns, his love affairs, his philosophy, and his legacy.


Hadrian had a number of love affairs in his life, both heterosexual and homosexual. The novel explores the different facets of love and its importance in human life.

Themes of the book

The burdens and responsibilities of power: Hadrian was one of the most powerful men in the world, but he also felt the weight of that power. He constantly struggled to balance the needs of the empire with his own personal desires.

The importance of love and friendship: Hadrian had many close relationships throughout his life, both with men and women. These relationships were a source of great joy and comfort to him.

The search for meaning in life: Hadrian was a thoughtful and introspective man who constantly questioned the meaning of life. He found solace in philosophy, art, and nature.

The legacy of the Roman Empire: Hadrian was a great admirer of Greek culture, and he saw himself as the defender and promoter of Roman civilization. He was determined to leave a lasting legacy behind him.


Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Stepchildren of the Shtetl : The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800–1939 by Natan M. Meir.- 2020


 

Stepchildren of the Shtetl : The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800–1939 by Natan M. Meir. - in The Stanford University Jewish Studies Series

"This outstanding book offers us a glimpse at the underbelly of a Jewish community rarely studied from this vantage point. Meir tackles an elusive topic with analytic skill, keen sensitivity, and clear, accessible prose."―Steven J. Zipperstein, author of Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History

Winner of the 2021 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title, sponsored by the American Library Association.

Finalist in the 2020 National Jewish Book Awards (History category), sponsored by the Jewish Book Council.

Honorable Mention in the 2021 DHA Outstanding Book Award, sponsored by the Disability History Association

Stepchildren of the Shtetl : The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800–1939 by Natan M. Meir. - in The Stanford University Jewish Studies Series- is very through study of a not much written about aspect of Eastern European Jewish, especially Jewish Russian history.

Meir details the numerous reasons an Eastern European Jew were to live in poverty.  If you were disabled or seriously mentally ill or cognitively challenged and had no family you had few options.  Public Begging or charity were your primary options,

Meir covers the operations of "poor houses" and the traditional obligations of Charity, the cholera weddings of the poor as well as the fears of many in Jewish society that the marginalised Jews played into the hands of Anti-Semitism.

"Memoirs of Jewish life in the east European shtetl often recall the hekdesh (town poorhouse) and its residents: beggars, madmen and madwomen, disabled people, and poor orphans. Stepchildren of the Shtetl tells the story of these marginalized figures from the dawn of modernity to the eve of the Holocaust.

Combining archival research with analysis of literary, cultural, and religious texts, Natan M. Meir recovers the lived experience of Jewish society's outcasts and reveals the central role that they came to play in the drama of modernization. Those on the margins were often made to bear the burden of the nation as a whole, whether as scapegoats in moments of crisis or as symbols of degeneration, ripe for transformation by reformers, philanthropists, and nationalists. Shining a light into the darkest corners of Jewish society in eastern Europe—from the often squalid poorhouse of the shtetl to the slums and insane asylums of Warsaw and Odessa, from the conscription of poor orphans during the reign of Nicholas I to the cholera wedding, a magical ritual in which an epidemic was halted by marrying outcasts to each other in the town cemetery—Stepchildren of the Shtetl reconsiders the place of the lowliest members of an already stigmatized minority." From Stanford University Press

About the author

Natan M. Meir is the Lorry I. Lokey Professor of Judaic Studies at Portland State University.

I borrowed this book from The New York City Public library 


"Poaching" - A Short Story by Carol Shields - Included in the Collected Short Stories of Carol Shields- 2004


 "Poaching" - A Short Story by Carol Shields - Included in the Collected Short Stories of Carol Shields- 2004  - 4 pages

This year, Buried in Print, a marvelous blog I have followed for over ten years,is doing a read through of the short stories of Carol Shields. I hope to participate fully in this event.


The more I read in the stories of Carol Shields the more grateful I am to Buried in Print for turning me on to her work. There are sixty some stories in the collection,it is my hope to read and post on them all in 2024.


Buriedinprint.com

"Poaching" is the 11th Short Story by Carol Shields I have so far read. 

"Poaching"  centers on a couple driving throughout England. We never learn much of their history.  They often pick up hitchhikers so they can learn their "story". The man calls this "Poaching".  

"I am partial, though, to the calm, to those who stand by the roadside with their luggage in the dust, too composed or dignified to trouble the air with their thumbs. There was the remarkable Venezuelan woman who rode with us from Cardiff to Conway and spoke only intermittently and in sentences that seemed wrapped in their own cool vapors. Yes, she adored to travel alone. She liked the song of her own thoughts. She was made fat by the sight of mountains. The Welsh sky was blue like a cushion. She was eager to embrace rides from strangers. She liked to open wide windows so she could commune with the wind. She was a doctor, a specialist in bones, but alas, alas, she was not in love with her profession. She was in love with the English language because every word could be picked up and spun like a coin on the table top. The shyest traveler can be kindled, Dobey maintains—often after just one or two strikes of the flint. That sullen Lancashire girl with the pink-striped hair and the colloid eyes—her dad was a coward, her mum shouted all the time, her boyfriend had broken her nose and got her pregnant. She was on her way, she told us, to a hostel in Bolton. Someone there would help her out. She had the address written on the inside of a cigarette packet. I looked aslant and could tell that Dobey wanted to offer her money, but part of our bargain was that we offer only rides".

I especially enjoy the literary references in her stories, today's story mentions the early work of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the playwright Ben Jonson.

The Carol Shields Literary Trust Website has an excellent biography 



https://www.carol-shields.com/biography.html

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming – , 2019 - by David Wallace-Wells - 320 Pages - Nonfiction




The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming – , 2019 - by David Wallace-Wells - 320 Pages - Nonfiction is an expansion of a 2017 article published New York Magazine - is a vivid account of the disastrous consequences if global warming is not mitigated soon.

Every day now on international news programs we see terrible storms that were once said to occur every 500 years, droughts causing potential mass starvation, insurance rates in hurricane prone areas in America becoming much higher with many companies withdrawing from the Florida market,  Forest fires grow more frequent in Canada and California.
Millions seek to migrate from areas hardest hit.

Wallace-Wells begins with an account of the comfortable myths well meaning people believe about climate warming.

"It is worse, much worse, than you think. The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an Arctic saga, unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matter of sea level and coastlines, not an enveloping crisis sparing no place and leaving no life undeformed; that it is a crisis of the “natural” world, not the human one; that those two are distinct, and that we live today somehow outside or beyond or at the very least defended against nature, not inescapably within and literally overwhelmed by it; that wealth can be a reliable shield against the ravages of warming; that the burning of fossil fuels is the price of continued economic growth; that growth, and the technology it produces, will inevitably engineer a way out of environmental disaster; that there is any analogue to the scale or scope of this threat, in the long span of human history, that might give us confidence in staring it down. None of this is true"


"It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible—food shortages, refugee emergencies, climate wars and economic devastation.

An “epoch-defining book” (The Guardian) and “this generation’s Silent Spring” (The Washington Post), The Uninhabitable Earth is both a travelogue of the near future and a meditation on how that future will look to those living through it—the ways that warming promises to transform global politics, the meaning of technology and nature in the modern world, the sustainability of capitalism and the trajectory of human progress.

The Uninhabitable Earth is also an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation—today’s.

Praise for The Uninhabitable Earth

“The Uninhabitable Earth is the most terrifying book I have ever read. Its subject is climate change, and its method is scientific, but its mode is Old Testament. The book is a meticulously documented, white-knuckled tour through the cascading catastrophes that will soon engulf our warming planet.”—Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times

“Riveting. . . . Some readers will find Mr. Wallace-Wells’s outline of possible futures alarmist. He is indeed alarmed. You should be, too.”—The Economist

“Potent and evocative. . . . Wallace-Wells has resolved to offer something other than the standard narrative of climate change. . . . He avoids the ‘eerily banal language of climatology’ in favor of lush, rolling prose.”—Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times

“The book has potential to be this generation’s Silent Spring.”—The Washington Post

“The Uninhabitable Earth, which has become a best seller, taps into the underlying emotion of the day: fear. . . . I encourage people to read this book.”—Alan Weisman, The New York Review of Books" from The Publisher- Penquin Randomhouse 

DAVID WALLACE-WELLS is a national fellow at the New America foundation and a columnist and deputy editor at New York magazine. He was previously the deputy editor of The Paris Review. He lives in New York City.