Four on Friday (on Saturday): Mrs Wilde, Molly McCloskey, Irish love poetry and John Boyne’s super-stardom


Molly McCloskey (picture via Malachi O’Doherty)

Only 24 hours late with this (which doesn’t exactly bode well, considering it’s just the second edition of Four on Friday). In this week’s snippets of stuff from around the web related to Irish writing, Oscar Wilde’s wife, Molly McCloskey, Irish love poetry and globe-trotting John Boyne.

Molly McCloskey may feel like something of an outsider in Ireland but she has lived here off and on for almost 25 years, and her relationship with the country forms the basis of her Dublin Review essay originally published last summer (but which I only got to this week):

My relationship with Ireland … could broadly be described as a progression from trying desperately to stay to trying halfheartedly to leave. There were stints living abroad, in places that never quite took. Lives were imagined or planned or attempted in London, Macedonia, Nairobi, Sri Lanka, Barcelona, Paris. Sometimes the pull was work, once or twice it was love; as often it was just the nagging feeling that my real life was elsewhere, waiting to begin. Nowhere felt more or less arbitrary than anywhere else. Ireland, after all, had been completely arbitrary, and at some point I began to believe that I would never know what it meant to me unless and until I left it.

At more than 7,500 words “An Accidental Immigrant” is a lengthy read but setting aside some time to it is almost certain to be greatly rewarded.

It touches on Henry James, phone sex, the Dublin floods of 2011 and (scything reference to) Rachel Allen as part of a personal investigation into McCloskey’s place in the world, and it’s one of the best pieces of non-fiction narrative about Ireland’s boom and bust you’re likely to read.

“An Accidental Immigrant” can be read at the Dublin Review website here

Micheal O’Siadhail on love

I knew the blog would be good for something.

I hadn’t read anything by Micheal O’Siadhail before Thursday, when a Valentine’s Day post asked the slightly mischievous question of whether Irish writers were any good at writing about love.

I still think it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to us (although you’d be well within your rights to raise an objection on grounds of generalisation and ask whether any type of writing comes naturally to any nationality), but there’s no doubt that O’Siadhail’s “Matins For You” hits the right notes.

A founder member of Aosdána and with 14 collections of poetry behind him over the past 25 years, O’Siadhail was suggested by Nuala Ní Chonchúir in the comments to Thursday’s blog.

In case you missed that it’s well worth pointing you in the direction of here. “Matins For You” is a poem brilliant on bliss. I’ve read it half a dozen times now and on each occasion I have a new favourite line.

New review of Constance Wilde biography

This week I read, in the pages of Washington D.C. magazine The Weekly Standard, a new review by Elizabeth Powers of a recent book about the wife of Oscar Wilde.

One diarist of the time wrote that Constance

is infinitely more interesting than the Elephant himself … one never gets tired of looking at the lovely Fairy who guards and guides him.

Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde, by Franny Moyle, was published two years ago, and would appear to be a hugely informative biography of Mrs Oscar Wilde, who died at the age of 39 after an unseemly divorce. Reflected in the book is lots more information about the life of Wilde himself. You can read a similarly gushing Guardian review here.

johnboyneJohn Boyne’s rising star

Finally this week, well done to John Boyne, whose stock continues to rise with each new book winning him a new legion of fans. Boyne’s ability to move seamlessly between genres and reading demographics is to be highly commended. He’s also prolific, with ten novels in 12 years including five (three for adults, two for younger readers) since the runaway success of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in 2006.

Anyone who follows Boyne on Twitter or has connected with him in Facebook will see exactly how far and wide his success has taken him (although it must be said and double-underlined that never is there any hint of conceit or entitlement in his bulletins from abroad).

Boyne – who’s still just 41, lest we forget – has a new diary entry in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania in April, when he will speak at a Library Luncheon. Tickets cost $40. Welcome to the world of the literary superstars.


2 thoughts on “Four on Friday (on Saturday): Mrs Wilde, Molly McCloskey, Irish love poetry and John Boyne’s super-stardom

  1. That essay really is an exceptional piece of work. I’m wondering whether the blistering intelligence begets the restlessness, or does the restlessness in some way help beget the intelligence? Travel broadens the mind, etc. etc.

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