Four on Friday: Walking Ulysses, The New York Times on Tóibín and O’Brien and The Gallery Press on YouTube

Here’s the start of the blurb, by Joycean scholar Joseph Nugent, of what must be a unique new project about Ulysses undertaken by Boston College in the US:

Eighteen chapters, six hundred and forty-four pages, a quarter of a million words, and seven years in the writing.  Over a hundred characters, more idioms, neologisms, and colloquialisms than you can count. Add plots, sub-plots, mini-plots, allusions, correspondences, every rhetorical device listed by Quintillian and then some, a potted history (by example) of the English language since the second century A.D. One single sentence containing 4,930 words … Ulysses is not for the faint hearted.

Walking Ulysses sets out to reconstruct the Dublin of June 16th, 1904, the one experienced by Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses.

Using digital mapping and multimedia, overlaying modern maps with contemporary, recommending easily walkable chapters and taking you footstep by footstep through Bloomsday, it is a phenomenal achievement.

Click here to view the project, or for some further reading here’s Matthew Battles’s piece from Boston College Magazine in late 2010:

The goal is to produce at once a map and a catalogue of Joycean detail—to make it possible for an individual to step out onto the streets of 21st-century Dublin with a laptop or smart phone and follow the skein of ways, the lattice of coincidences and synchronicities, raveled by Joyce’s characters.

Edna-OBrienEdna O’Brien, now into her 80s, made an appearance at the Cúirt International Festival of Literature last week, when she was interviewed by Vincent Woods about last year’s memoir, Country Girl.

But it’s a piece from overseas that I’m including here, a review of that book by Dwight Garner in the New York Times last weekend.

With references to Paul McCartney, Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum, Norman Mailer, Samuel Beckett, Marianne Faithfull, Sean Connery, Princess Margaret, Jane Fonda, Philip Roth, Gunter Grass, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, there’s no doubt she had, as Garner writes:

an outsize life to match her outsize talent

Read Dwight Garner’s review of Country Girl here

Returning to the New York Times again (unfortunately, whereas the New York Times  has been bringing readers plenty of interesting stuff about Irish writers, the seventh most recent piece on independent.ie is a news item from two weeks ago on Dan Brown’s impending visit to the Dublin Writers’ Festival), there was an insightful little interview this week with Colm Tóibín, who learned that his Broadway play had been nominated for a Tony award – an hour before he learned that the play was being cut due to poor ticket sales.

Asked how he took the news, he said:

[D]ark laughter might be the best way to put it. And when in doubt, consult Oscar Wilde … He has a quote – success is merely a preparation for failure. Anyone who works in the arts knows, if you’re writing a novel or a play or anything, you have to be ready for someone to say, [your] time is up.

Read Patrick Healy’s Q&A interview with Colm Tóibín here

The Gallery Press in rural Co Meath (website here, Facebook page here) has long been recognised as one of Ireland’s leading publishers of poetry. On the blog this week they pointed readers in the direction of their Poem of the Month, which is, rather suitably, “May” by Kerrie Hardie.

I’m also enjoying their series of low-tech but very worthwhile YouTube videos of some of their poets reading their work.

The latest one is of Tom French, who daylights as executive librarian of the Meath library service, reading a poem from his 2009 collection The Fire Step, namely “Gogarty’s Printers, Kilmainhamwood”:

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