Essays

October 11, 2013

Paper Tiger: Irish Financial Fiction after the Bust 2

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Irish writers have begun to take stock of the post-Tiger years in ways that attest to the global nature of the bust. Two in particular, Aifric Campbell and Alan Glynn, offer compelling if wildly divergent responses to the challenge of representing in fictional terms what Campbell calls “the closed world” of the financial industry.

October 10, 2013

The Past is What Matters: On Margaret Atwood’s Vision of the Future 3

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For Atwood, the speculative effort is to imagine not just what the future might bring, but also what it might take away.

October 8, 2013

Two Years After Timeline: Facebook and The Neverending Story 4

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It’s been just over two years since Facebook first replaced walls with timelines, and the anniversary begs reflection. Might it truly be Facebook, and not the e-book, that threatens the paperback?

October 4, 2013

A Space that Occupies You: On Being in and Inspired by the Shower 2

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And if I begin to masturbate in the shower (as occasionally a married man with toddlers may do), then I use more hot, clean water, and after ejaculation I feel as pathetic and solemn as if I were seated in church asking the good Lord for something I don’t deserve.

October 2, 2013

It Has Always Been Thus 8

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Critics who have taken up the dead author standard would have us regard creative work as an elaborate Freudian slip: don’t read for what a writer is trying to say, read for what they’ve said in spite of themselves. That’s wrong. Literature (and all the arts, really) is the product of concentrated, intelligent minds to which we are granted intimate, but temporary and incomplete, access.

September 30, 2013

You Must Read Kevin Barry 2

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Kevin Barry’s new collection of stories, Dark Lies the Island, shares the virtues that made his debut novel, City of Bohane, such an astonishment. There is rich music, high humor and deep blackness on every page.

September 27, 2013

Losing Yourself: What The Secret History Tells Us About the Liberal Arts 7

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We are told the liberal arts are a way of experiencing life; we are told the schools and institutions that teach the humanities to students are not merely teaching texts but fostering great citizens and empathetic human beings. From these descriptions, the liberal arts seem like a kind of magic medicine that will make you smarter, cooler, better.

September 26, 2013

Playing Survivor on Novel Island 1

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“The babies know just what they need to do,” observed one seasoned mother, watching my son on the playground. He was standing at an iron gate performing what honestly looked like a series of leg-strengthening exercises. He was very focused, very serious. He didn’t need a sign reminding him not to start any new projects.

September 24, 2013

Beauty is Truth: The Case Against Banning The Bluest Eye 8

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To call The Bluest Eye pornographic is simply wrong. Accusing Morrison’s work of containing child pornography both ignores the very important distinction between pornography and rape and displays the weakness of the arguments against the book.

September 23, 2013

Love, Reblogged: Thoughts on 40 Days of Dating 3

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The project is a lesson for fiction writers in the variance of point of view, and it proves that interpersonal communication can be as trying as putting together Ikea furniture.