Archive for April 9th, 2006

Jackboot Jackanory

So my aunt asked me yesterday what I thought about Marian Keyes. I don’t like her. And yes, I’ve read stuff by her. I think it’s tripe, and not to be taken seriously.

My aunt said ‘I heard her on the radio the other day, and she was talking about her alcohol problem, and how maybe if she hadn’t had the drink problem she wouldn’t have been a successful writer’. I nodded, because I knew that Marian Keyes frequently talks about her drink problem. Anyway, here she is, in an interview, talking about her drink problem, among other things.

The fawning interviewer cites ‘raucous, at-home Irishness’ and ‘the Irish gift for conversation’ as important factors in Keyes’s work, and discovers that her subject identifies with the tradition of Irish writers who have felt the need to escape. Like, you know, Wilde, Joyce, Beckett and the rest.

“Ireland was such a different country [when I was growing up],” she says. “It was a horrible time to be a woman. I felt claustrophobic. Every time I thought of going back I used to have a physical sensation like I was choking. It was a visceral response to that jackboot.”

Jackboots. Why deny it? Marian Keyes is the Irish Sylvia Plath.

Post-script: The article also notes, in the generic plural noun beloved by footballers (your Henrys, your Rooneys etc.) that ‘she is currently devouring the Germaine Greers and Naomi Woolfs (sic*) that she missed out on as a teenager.’ Since there is only about a year’s difference in age between Marian Keyes and Naomi Wolf, one is inclined to imagine that Marian Keyes’s teenage years extended into her late twenties, when Wolf’s first book was published.

* the plural of Woolfs is Woolves.

Clarifying Matters

Here is a useful post on moral clarity:

It is an interesting rhetorical paradox that the phrase “moral clarity” usually signals the introduction of a double standard, an attempt to split morality into a twin-track system whereby, for instance, “they” are evil, and “we” just make mistakes. In this sense, “moral clarity” is really moral relativism: if you criticize us, we will just point over there and remind you of how bad they are . . .

Steven Poole, whose book Unspeak was surprisingly good.

The Bigger The Front, The Bigger The Back

In light of the revelation the other day that men get slightly fixated with the stiff covers of hardback books, I thought male readers might be interested to learn that I got several hardbacks, mostly dreadnought-size, given to me this weekend:

The Tin Drum, Gunther Grass
Six Novels, Colette
The Best of Dorothy Parker
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Vols 1 and 2 by William Shirer
Richard Ellmann’s biography of Oscar Wilde
Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Not too sure where to start with that lot. I only asked to borrow the Wilde biography, and I wound up with the above. I can’t see myself reading the Shirer books on the train: they’re Folio Society red hardbacks with a large swastika on the front. In fact, the only one of portable size is the Dorothy Parker one, and it’s a Folio Society print too.

I’m not really one for collecting editions and signed copies, or smelling the book before buying it and that sort of thing. As long as I can read the print, I couldn’t care less what the book looks like.

I on Twitter

April 2006