From the Librarian’s Cellar: Eggshells

Congratulations to Irish author, Caitriona Lally, on winning the Rooney Prize 2018! Here’s my review of her novel ‘Eggshells’, from 2015. Delighted that she is getting the recognition she deserves. Talented writer indeed!

carolinefarrell

“Vivian doesn’t feel like she fits in – never has. She lives alone in a house in North Dublin that her great aunt left to her. She has no friends, no job and few social skills.”

So is she an interesting character? Is there enough going on for us to stick with Vivian for two hundred and fifty-three pages?

Absolutely. Yes.

Caitriona Lally’s debut novel is a delight.  Vivian is different, her circumstances cryptically threaded into the subtext. Nothing is explained, nor should it be, on this whimsical, darkly comical journey through the streets of Dublin and from the point of view of a deeply engaging, and deliciously quirky protagonist. Fascinated by words and obsessed with making lists, Vivian believing that she is not of this world, looks for magic in the everyday things, and who doesn’t need a bit of magic?

One for the Librarian’s shelf, Eggshells is published by Liberties Press. 2015

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Irish Blog Awards 2018: Finalist!

I am over the moon to announce the great news I received today. I am a finalist in the Irish Blog Awards 2018 in 2 categories:

Personal Blog > Arts & Culture
Personal Blog > Books & Literature

My blog has been shortlisted for three years running now, but this is the first time I have been selected as a finalist, so naturally, I’m pretty happy right now! Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony, which takes place on October 25th, and I am loving The Day of The Dead theme! A full list of finalists and all details are now on the Blog Awards Website HERE. Check out the cool logos!

Thanks so much to YOU, my readers who like and share my posts. I really do enjoy blogging on my favourite things, but it wouldn’t be much fun if no-one read them! Congrats too, to all the amazing bloggers on the Long and Short Lists, and especially to those who also made the finals! Fingers crossed and wish us ALL the luck!

Reading Challenge: 20 Books ’til New Year’s Eve!

I know that I am not alone in being the owner of a dangerously high and tilting book tower of ‘To Be Read’ titles, not to mention the Kindle!And yet, I continue to buy more and more books! So, I have decided to do something about that. Inspired by Cathy Brown and her lovely blog 747books.com – I am challenging myself to read 20 books, beginning on September 1st and finishing on 31st December. Here is my list – I will not be reading them in any particular order – and may replace some with other titles that take my fancy, but for now, this is it!

 

1: Her Name was Rose: Claire Allan

2: The Cruelty Men: Emer Martin

3: The Trick to Time: Kit de Waal

4: Kind Nepenthe: Matthew V. Brockmeyer

5: The Collector: John Fowles

6: The Story Collector: Evie Gaughan

7: A Head Full of Ghosts: Paul Tremblay

8: Bone Music: Christopher Rice

9: Sweet Little Lies: Caz Frear

10: The View from The Cheap Seats: Neil Gaiman

11: When You Eyes Close: Tanya Farrelly

12: What was Lost: Catherine O’Flynn

13: The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder: Sarah J. Harris

14: House of Spines: Michael J. Malone

15: The Broken Girls: Simone St James

16: This House is Haunted: John Boyne

17: Clock Dance: Anne Tyler

18: The Dead Girls: Derek Flynn

19: Devils’ Day: Andrew Michael Hurley

20: The Nightmare: F.B. Hogan

 

On Music: Kate Bush and other muses…

Kate Bush turns 60 today, and I am reminded now of her extensive catalogue of creativity, and the impact her music had on me as a young one. The debut of Kate, and many other female artists who emerged in the mid 70’s and 80’s, gifted to me some powerful, creative role models to admire and each of them were inspirational to me in believing that there was nothing wrong with having dreams and creative visions, whatever your gender and background.

I will always be influenced by music in general, and there are women from past and present that I love to listen to, from Judy Garland to Pink to Florence Welch and many, many others. However, this is my tribute to Kate and to these incredible women in music that I was listening to in my formative years; the soundtracks that accompanied my coming of age and beyond.

This list evokes not just an era of development and discovery, but also a rich and sensuous collection of talent, strength and individuality, more powerful because every one of them have endured and are still creating. It also reminds me that no matter the light or shade of the day, I was, and am, in the best of company. When the voices in your head get too loud, turn that music up!

Note: While I would love to include favourite songs and images, being mindful of copyright infringements, I am linking to official websites only. 

 

KATE BUSH

Mesmerized from the first time I saw her ethereal performance of Wuthering Heights. Website HERE

 

SUZI QUATRO

Guitars, leather and catchy rock songs sung with a voice that could shatter glass, what’s not to love! Website HERE

 

STEVIE NICKS

Still singing to my soul, a goddess! Website HERE

 

BLONDIE (Debbie Harry) 

Show me a woman of my generation who didn’t worship Blondie! Seriously! Website HERE

 

CHRISSIE HYNDE

A bad girl with good intentions, Chrissie keeps rocking! Website HERE

 

GRACE JONES

Fierce. That is all. Facebook Page HERE

 

ANNIE LENNOX

From The Tourists to the present day, Annie is spectacular! Website HERE

 

SHIRLEY MANSON

I played the debut album Garbage to the death! Website HERE

 

SINEAD O’CONNOR

In awe of her talent from Mandika to present day. Website HERE

 

Dressing His Former Self…

A couple of times a year, usually in summer and in the lead up to Christmas, I replenish my father’s wardrobe with the essentials – vests, jumpers, shirts, trousers and socks. I won’t, and don’t expect to get any thanks for it. He doesn’t know me anymore. He will talk to me as he would a stranger, if he’s in the mood. Pleasant and vacant – the ‘spick and span’ Da in his suit and tie that I grew up fearing cocooned now in mysterious, cruel layers that are painstakingly consuming his former self.

I have this ritual of ironing his name onto everything, an important task as otherwise, it will all get lost in the wash of the care home laundry process. Even his socks will be labelled before I place all of it in his wardrobe, in the bright and clean en suite room that the independent rebel still fighting inside him propels him to spend as little time in as he can possibly get away with. He paces the corridors most of the time. Going somewhere inside his head. Going nowhere outside it.

This ritual, I’ll put off for days, even weeks, the new clothes, still bagged and tagged in the corner as each time I find it harder to psych myself up for it. And even when his name is carefully placed securely on each item, I know full sure that the next time I venture in to visit him, another ritual that grows more difficult with time, some of the clothes will still be hanging, unworn in the wardrobe, and I’ll be frustrated when I see him wearing someone else’s jumper, or track suit bottoms – the latter an item of clothing his former self would, I know for sure, prefer not to be caught dead in.

Such is the experience of living with Alzheimer’s, my father’s personality, his style, his essence, his basic autonomy, slowly devoured by this cruel disease.

I didn’t always see eye to eye with his former self – anyone who has watched my film IN RIBBONS may begin to understand why – but the man I knew then is not the man I know now. The process of watching him disappear to a state of mind that only he will experience but will never be able to communicate to another human being is a dismal, morbid process to witness.

And the rituals hurt like fuck.

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Caroline