“ Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me”
So begins this dark, suspenseful novel. From the beginning we are drawn through the iron gates of Manderley and down the drive towards this great house. We accompany the young heroine who is never given a name other than the second Mrs De Winter. Through her eyes we see the world of the first Mrs De Winter, the beautiful and accomplished Rebecca.
Welcome to the thirteenth entry of our blog series 'Lost in the Stacks' - with recommendations by Dublin City Libraries staff. This one was submitted by Brian from the Relief Panel/Home Delivery Service for Cocooners. In his introduction to Donald Barthelme’s ˈSixty Storiesˈ, David Gates reports that Barthelme once described the typical short story as being ‘constructed mousetrap-like to supply, at the finish, a tiny insight typically having to do with innocence violated’.I feel my gobsmackedness at the twist in many stories I have so enjoyed being mocked by this comment but maybe having written the most audaciously brilliant and hilarious short story ever - ˈSome Of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colbyˈ (from ˈForty Storiesˈ) – Barthelme could feel entitled to have a pot-shot at whatever and whoever he likes.This gets me thinking about what (along with an insightful twist ?!!) makes for a good short story and as soon as I do this I’m sorry I started. On re-reading ˈThe Penthouse Apartmentˈ, my favourite story by William Trevor, I note a twist of sorts triumphally heralded by the line ‘“You had trouble with the pipes,” said Mr Morgan’. The said Morgan is a hammy storyteller when compared to the deft and subtle Trevor. We realise, in retrospect, that a throw-away early comment – ‘…animals, within reason, were permitted’ – contains such portent. Truth eludes Miss Winton’s ‘…great mound of words…’. Her reasonableness, with the rally cry ‘“I am trying to promote understanding”’ is dashed on the twin rocks of Morgan’s resentment and the Runcas’ philosophy ‘…that efficiency and a stern outlook were good weapons in the business of accumulating wealth’. This little ˈslice of lifeˈ contains a microcosm of societal strata and stresses but perhaps more striking and Trevoresque is the start-to-finish, slow-burn ˈsinister of the ordinaryˈ (also funny, in the drollest and darkest senses of course). A special ingredient of this is Trevor’s purveyance of drunken conversation, entwining and descending into nonsense but perhaps more scary for its retention of some sense. For me with William Trevor to adore the writing is to adore the man.On re-reading ˈThe Love Of A Good Womanˈ, my favourite story by Alice Munro, let’s agree for starters to forget about twists. This story is about strange goings-on in a town called Walley (ok, I’m out of my depth here). It is perhaps more ˈslices of lifeˈ than ˈslice of lifeˈ and yet the slices are linked and more to the point it has that element of encapsulation essential to a short story, albeit a long one. We begin with an elegiac depiction of a vanishing world where each role is precisely, unambiguously and unsparingly delineated, typified by the following:- ‘Most members of that company were between nine and twelve years old, too old to be bound by yards and neighborhoods but too young to have jobs – even jobs sweeping the sidewalk in front of stores or delivering groceries by bicycle’. How from here do we descend (down we go again) incrementally into a miasma of ambivalence? Go figure why Enid gives up her nurse’s training and still ends up nursing. Then consider the likes of the following:- ‘Lies…could be waiting around in the corners of a person’s mind, hanging like bats in the corners, waiting to take advantage of any kind of darkness. You can never say, Nobody could make that up. Look how elaborate dreams are, layer over layer in them, so that the part you can remember and put into words is just the bit you can scratch off the top’. And as Munroesque as ambivalence, behold that most intangible and terrifying of feminine qualities – emotional intelligence. This story is divided into four sections, each one sub-titled for the readers’ convenience. The first is my favourite, where Munro uncannily inhabits the hearts and minds of a trio of boys in the aforementioned 9 to 12-yr-old bracket, but in truth this whole story is a miracle of the uncanny. In the extremely unlikely event that, at this late stage of my efforts, I attain adulthood, perhaps I might even earn the right to bathe fully in the balming (if roiling) waters of Alice Munro’s stories.
RBdigital Comics makes some of the the best comic titles from major brands and independent publishers available for free to Dublin Library patrons, with something for all ages and tastes. Graphic novels are much longer and tend to be much more complex. While a comic book will tell a story over many issues, graphic novels more often have their storylines wrapped up in only one or two books. This blog is brought to you by our colleague, Kevin, in Kevin Street Library. On your first visit, create a new account (inputting your Dublin City library membership card number) and complete registration for the RBdigital comics option (please scroll down on this page to explore). You should use the same email address as for other RBdigital products. Sign up here with your library card and to enjoy a range of excellent graphic novels. If you have registered for RBdigital magazines you can use your RBdigital account details to instantly access Comics.To start you off, here are a few recommendations for adult readers: ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT by James StokoeA tale of survival set on a crumbling space station, writer/Illustrator James Stokoe’s graphic novel captures the claustrophobic atmosphere of Ridley Scott’s original 1979 Alien better than any of its comic book predecessors.HELLBOY OMNIBUS VOL. 1-4 by Mike Mignola et al.Collecting the entirety of Mike Mignola’s seminal fantasy-gothic-horror-adventure series in four volumes, this epic story of a working-class demon battling mythical creatures and his own destiny is an absolute must-read and beautifully illustrated throughout.RICHARD STARK’S PARKER: THE HUNTER by Darwyn CookeComics legend Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of the first of Richard Stark’s brutal, efficient crime novels starring the cool-headed, cold-blooded master thief Parker is a tremendous artistic achievement in its own right. Stark’s spare prose pairs beautifully with Cooke’s minimalistic linework and keen storytelling.MARCH: BOOKS 1-3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate PowellBy turns harrowing, uplifting and inspiring, this graphic autobiography of American civil rights icon John Lewis takes us from his childhood on an Alabama farm up through his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, culminating in the historic Selma to Montgomery marches.THE CROW MIDNIGHT LEGENDS: DEAD TIME by James O’Barr, John Wagner and Alexander MaleevOriginally envisioned by original Crow graphic novel author O’Barr as a follw-up to the 1994 film, this story of reincarnation and long-delayed vengeance is brought ferociously to life by Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner and superstar artist Alexander Maleev.
Liz Buckley here reviews If Walls Could Talk; An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley, available as an eBook from Borrowbox. If on loan, you can reserve a copy.I read this book at the start of the Corona virus pandemic in Ireland. I was really fascinated to learn of the dire consequences that ignorance, myth and misinformation had on world health down through the ages. Poor sanitation in the home and at local level was behind several pandemics throughout history and the spread of germs from person to person or animal to person is an ongoing battle and often misunderstood.If Walls Could Talk; An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley reflects how the basic practices of hygiene good or bad have always meant life or death for the individual. The saddest place and most rife of germs and disease was at local level and the author’s portrayal of the birthing bed proves the risky business of childbirth and accounts for the outrageous death rate of mother and child over time.The author demonstrates the dark subject of infection and disease very well throughout her book. Worsley is an outstanding historian with an eye for detail and a gifted storyteller who can draw the reader in. The book is colourful with many excellent illustrations and her wry sense of humour make what is essentially a history lesson, uniquely entertaining.Some may think the subject matter “heavy duty” but the book is successful in that it manages to prevail as a light-hearted and humorous look at the history of the home, comparing Tudor, Georgian, Victorian, and homes of the present day. She captivates life from both ends of the spectrum describing the homes of the rich and the lives of the people who worked in them. She explores societal changes in behaviour through the prism view of a functioning household and she often chooses the Big House to begin with, and then introduces the reader to the lives of the servants.The history of the bedroom and bathroom or privy is explored with hilarious revelations as lots of people pass through for all kind of reasons other than sleep, sex or simply to do one’s business and compares public forwardness to today’s great and urgent call for privacy. Toilets and toilet roll, nickers and drawers, house fashions and utensils are examined to give the reader a real feel of the era and you can share some of the bygone practices with younger members of your family who will be astounded and unbelieving. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and if you have seen the BBC series of the same title you will hear the quirky voice of the author as you read and appreciate her wry yet factual account of how we lived in times gone by.
The first I heard of Dermot Healy was in June 2014. A friend of mine was asked to read through poems to be considered for selection in the Dermot Healy International Poetry Competition. The next day, it was reported on the national news that he had passed away. It had been remarked by another one of my of friends that his work never got the recognition and success it deserved, that he was a much more “interesting” writer than his peers. Interesting can sometimes mean, “you’re not going to understand this…. You thickie!”. I began reading Long Time, No See. Immediately, I got a jolt: the words on the page were formatted like poetry and none of the dialogue was in inverted commas. I was reluctant to continue as my eyes and brain were in for a different exercise regime. However, my desire to be a know-it-all won through and I’m so glad I persevered. This is one of the best books I have ever read. Set in an Irish coastal rural community,it starts slowly with a young man visiting his grand uncle. Nothing happens for about six pages but I was enjoying the unusual format and the peculiar habits of the locals. Then something small happens and the story has you gripped. His descriptions of the landscape are beautifully minute and familiar. The language of the characters is real and humorous. The main character is a young man dealing with a tragedy that is intermittently revealed. It is about life, death and relationships’, each is given its weight from the cosmic to the banal and leaves you not wanting to leave these people or the place they live. Ten out of ten for Dermot Healy. I’m really sorry he is gone. I would have liked to have written to him to tell him how much I enjoyed his book. His earlier books are out of print but Dublin City Public Libraries do have copies to lend.
Thicke'ing' all the right boxes but leaving 5 Marooned
This Post was submitted by Guest Blogger Amy Connolly.I saw Maroon 5 perform in the o2 in late January of this year. I had waited a long time to see them as they were initially supposed to be in Dublin June 2013, but postponed their dates by nearly half a year! As their new date did approach I was pleased to see that Robin Thicke was their support act! In fact, I think, as the date got closer, I was more looking forward to Robin Thicke than Maroon 5.Robin Thicke's performance on the night was fantastic. Everyone there seemed to enjoy it. He made use of every inch of the stage strutting his stuff. His songs were fun and light with bags of swagger. I would definitely get a ticket to see him again. If you would like to hear his album 'Blurred Lines' check out the deluxe edition available at the Music Library. His performance of his chart-topping hit 'Blurred Lines' on the night was fantastic. It was bouncy, fun and had everyone moving to the beat. Thicke is an all round entertainer; he can sing, he can dance and most importantly he can draw every single member of his audience in to enjoying every moment he’s on stage.Maroon 5 flawlessly executed their night’s set list; the tunes were energetic and had everyone dancing. They were so good that it was like listening to them on CD or the radio. If you would like to hear their albums then take a look at what’s available at the Music Library, you won’t be disappointed. There was energy in their performance on the night but it lacked something. It was enjoyable but not inspiring. But, as I have already said there were no errors or mistakes detectable in their work, it was technically perfect, but that might be what was wrong – it lacked heart.Unfortunately having waited so long to see them live I was disappointed by a couple of things on the night:Firstly, there was virtually no crowd interaction between front man Adam Levine and fans. It was as if he just wanted to get through the night, do his songs and head off home. I do understand it can be difficult for artists to be "on" all the time but when thousands of people have paid for their tickets I think you should at least pretend to like where you are for a couple of hours.Secondly, wherever you are, no matter what, surely everyone knows you should never toe away a flag thrown on stage for you from your loving fans, pushing it off the stage on to the floor. Part of me wonders did Mr Levine know that it was actually the flag of Ireland and therefore was ignorant of why it had being thrown onto stage for him. This would explain another mystery - part of the act involved a large screen at the back of the stage displaying a Union Jack and shots of London and other places in the UK. Perhaps all Adam Levine is guilty of is not being good at geography. Let’s hope so.Despite these two aforementioned criticisms a great night was had. I think Maroon 5 did make up for leaving fans waiting so long to see them after cancelling their show scheduled originally for the previous summer, however, it was not by an unbelievably inspiring or awesome performance, which never materialised on the night, but rather the inclusion of the 'Blurred Lines' hit maker as their support act. All was forgiven from the moment Robin Thicke took to the o2 arena stage and it was clear on the night that the entertaining Robin Thicke overshadowed an under-performing Maroon 5.
This Post was submitted by our Guest Blogger, Amy Connolly.A 'Killer' Show: Live at the o2 Arena and Phoenix Park DublinThe Killers released their new album 'Direct Hits', a best of collection recently. Their previous album 'Battle Born' hit the shelves in late 2012 and gave me the opportunity to see them play live not once but twice during 2013! It was very interesting seeing them perform in two very different venues. They are equally amazing to listen to in the enclosed environs of the o2 arena and the outdoor setting of the Phoenix Park in July. Both venues providing great sound quality and listening experiences for fans. My boyfriend and myself attended their sell-out show in the o2 in February, the tickets were a gift for my boyfriend’s birthday, and he had a fantastic night, particularly listening to his all time favourite song 'Mr. Brightside'. The rock band’s show was energetic and called for lots of dancing throughout the night.During the performance at the o2 arena I was particularly impressed with the overall attitude The Killers had to their fans, particularly when a fight broke out between two men in the centre of the standing area. Rather than continuing to play as the men fought, lead singer Brandon Flowers stopped singing and called for his band mates to stop playing. Speaking directly to those causing the disturbance Flowers appealed to them to make peace and return to enjoying the show, and to stop ruining the atmosphere for others attending the show. It was a remarkable show of respect and care from the band for their fans and one that when witnessed can’t easily be forgotten. When the interruption was over the band returned to playing their music and continued to entertain their Irish fans with the same enthusiasm and high spirits as they had started with earlier on that dank February night.Going to their second gig in Dublin for 2013 in the Phoenix Park was an equally rocking experience. We were lucky with the fine dry weather that Saturday summer’s evening. The walk from the LUAS stop at Heuston to the site in the Park was unforgettably long. By the time we entered the concert and cleared security checks, we were happy to sit on the dry grass in the sunshine. Unlike the o2 arena, being an unseated venue, there was plenty of room to comfortably stand away from the main stage and still fully enjoy the performance.The Killers didn’t fail to provide a great night’s entertainment. The only criticism my boyfriend had of his favourite band was the omission of 'Flesh and Bone' from the night’s set. They played songs from their recent album Battle Born and hits from their previous albums such as the smash hit 'Hot Fuss', and unlike their concert in the o2 earlier in the year they threw in a few covers of popular songs, including an unusual and catchy rendition of Tiffany's 'I Think We’re Alone Now', indeed a cover itself.My favourite song of both nights’ was 'Someone Told Me'. The song, as fans already know, is catchy, the lyrics fun, and listening to it live was fantastic. I don’t think its possible to really appreciate The Killers music without experiencing their rocking tunes live, however if you are not already a fan you should checkout the Dublin City Public Libraries online catalogue or drop into your local branch to reserve one of their albums. You can’t help but dance and sing along to the infectious riffs of their songs, their music is truly impossible to resist.I look forward with great anticipation to seeing them play live again in the future, but in the meantime I’ll plunder the library catalogue. I urge you to do so too.AlbumsHot Fuss (album, 2004)Sam's Town (album, 2006)Sawdust (compilation album, 2007)Day and Age (album, 2008)Battle Born (album, 2012) not in stockDirect Hits (compilation album, 2013)
Lou Reed passed away on the 27th of October 2013.He was one of the most influential figures in rock music. His first band The Velvet Underground is probably solely responsible for any "Indie Music" we hear today. However he is most famous for two songs, "Walk on the Wild Side" and Perfect Day". The former was a hit in 1972. A most unusual chart song with sparse arrangement of an infectious backing vocal, two note bass line and spoken styled melody of lyrics about transsexuals and prostitution inspired by characters of the pop artist Andy Warhol's hangout, The Factory. The song surfaced again in 1990 as it's memorable bass line was sampled by A Tribe Called Quest as the backbone of their song "Can I kick it?". The latter was "Perfect Day" (the b side to Walk on the Wild side) which had a resurgence in the film Trainspotting and was released by an all star cast as a charity single in 1997. Both songs were featured on the album Transformer.The Velvet Underground were formed in 1964 and played as the house band in Andy Warhol's Factory. Reed and John Cale were the main composers. Their first Album The Velvet Underground and Nico is so unusual, some tracks sound like Bo Diddley duelling with a violin and other tracks are so achingly beautiful and simple the album is hard to forget. There is no point in me trying to explain it, just listen! It is still one of the most unusual records I have ever heard. When you look back to what was happening in the charts at the time, Nancy and Frank Sinatra, The Doors, the world was not ready for The Velvet Underground.The album only sold 30,000 copies, but as musician Brian Eno said "each one of those people who bought the record started a band".Lou Reed went on to record twenty solo albums after The Velvet Underground disbanded. He died of complications following a liver transplant.His life partner is artist Laurie Anderson.
April is the month for Dublin City Council’s One City, One Book initiative – this year it’s Joseph Plunkett’s Strumpet City. This campaign drums up a huge amount of interest in its chosen book each year, and by extension in Irish literature generally; so if you enjoy each year’s nomination, keep the momentum going, and try other Irish authors: there are hundreds to choose from, so here’s a small selection of both classic and modern to whet your appetite. Oscar Wilde (2010's 1C1B choice) has a huge range of works to choose from – poetry, plays, stories, fables, essays - and you can find them all in the Collins complete works of Oscar Wilde. This also includes lots of photos and background information, including contributions from Wilde’s grandson. J. M. Synge’s plays are widely regarded as classics of Irish literature. Synge’s detached and realistic portrayals of the Irish peasantry jarred with the romantic attitudes of his time, to the point where the Abbey’s production of The playboy of the western world provoked riots and had to be acted with police protecting the cast. Check out Playboy and his other works in Synge: the complete plays. Roddy Doyle is well on his way to becoming a living legend among Irish authors. His best known work is probably The Barrytown trilogy – The Commitments, The Snapper, The Van – all really well-written and with Doyle’s trademark humour and empathy. My own favourite, though, is Paddy Clarke ha ha ha, not least for its descriptions of Dubliners settling into the brand-new suburbs of the sixties.Brinsley MacNamara’s The valley of the squinting windows evokes the stifling, suffocating atmosphere of rural Ireland of the early 20th century. Like Synge’s Playboy, this too provoked a furious reaction on publication, as people from MacNamara’s hometown recognised themselves, and sued for libel: copies of the book were rounded up and burnt. Without this reaction, the book may well have been forgotten by now, which goes to show there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Edna O’Brien’s The country girls is the story of Cait and Baba’s coming of age in the sixties, and moving from rural Ireland to the big smoke of Dublin. This is another book that didn’t go down well on publication, because of its themes of sexuality and repression, and was in fact received so badly that O’Brien was effectively hounded out of the country. Like many Irish writers, O’Brien was instrumental in changing people’s awareness of their repressive culture and customs. For short stories, try The ballroom of romance and other stories by William Trevor, internationally-acclaimed and the recipient of many awards. His ability to bring to life a multitude of different personalities is incredible. His writing’s not easy to describe without resorting to clichés, so I’ll just say he’s a wonderful writer: try him out! Relative newcomer Paul Murray is already proving himself with the magnificent Skippy dies – proof, if you needed any, that nobody in their right mind would want to be a teenager again. This is a pretty long read, but it’s so well-written and thought-provoking that you won’t want to put it down.