ACADEMY STREET by Mary Costello (Canongate Books, 2014)
Mary Costello’s bold and compassionate debut novel initially gives the impression it will be an uplifting life story of female empowerment.
It begins in the 1940s and is set in Western Ireland. In this time and place we meet Tess, aged 8, immediately after the sudden death of her beloved mother.
The bewilderment and uncertainty this loss produces is brilliantly evoked as is the child’s difficult relationship with her harsh and uncommunicative father.
Surely things can only get better and with Angela’s Ashes in mind you envisage emigration from Ireland to America to be the harbinger of hope and good fortune. Continue reading
THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers (First published, 1940)
This has to be one of the best titles of all time and is widely regarded as one the great American novels.
It is certainly a remarkable achievement especially considering it is the debut work of a writer who was just 23 years old when it was first published.
Full of worldly wisdom and compassion for life’s underdogs, it suggests that Carson McCullers was writing from her own bitter experiences. Continue reading
ANOMALISA directed by Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson (USA, 2015)
Michael and Lisa
“I don’t want to live my life like everybody else,
And I don’t want to say that I feel fine like everybody else,
‘Cause I’n not like everybody else”
These lyrics by Ray Davies in The Kinks’ song ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Life’ serves as a neat summation of the central theme in Charlie Kaufman’s latest ‘mindfuck’ movie.
An ‘anomaly’ is defined by Macmillan Dictionary as “something unusual, unexpected or different from what usually happens”. As an animated feature for adults, including an explicit and realistic stop motion sex scene, this film is certainly an anomaly but it is also consistent with Kaufman’s previous work in that it is less concerned with external reality and more focused on what goes on inside our heads. Continue reading
Facebook has its uses but more often than not leaves me feeling dissatisfied with my lot.
I wrote these lines to explain why.
Sweet as magazines.
I scan the profile updates
of people I’d like to know
who already seem complete
See them having
flawless fun in closed groups
or perfectly poised in selfies.
In my room,
with no good news to share
I stare at the screen
at smiling faces
not like mine.
THE MARK LANEGAN BAND Live at the Rocca Malastestiana, Cesena, Italy 11th August 2015
Mark Lanegan – not a summery kind of guy.
On stage, Mark Lanegan looks and sounds every inch the rock and roll survivor.
This gives added authenticity to his songs about salvation and healing.
For Lanegan’s brand of bleak urban rock, black is the colour, as typified by tunes like The Gravedigger’s Song and Gray Goes Black.
Lanegan stands centre stage like a pugilist, not as someone who is picking a fight but as a man used to standing his ground. Continue reading