Deadly Women (with Matt Fullerty)

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Hackers play practical joke - on the living!

Dear England, click either of the pics! They both lead to the same story about hackers taking over electronic billboards in Austin, Texas and promoting real-life zombies on the loose.

Only in America!
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John McGahern Interview

This is John McGahern, a much respected Irish novelist who passed away in 2006. However, his archives are held at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and include the manuscripts of his published and unpublished novels, short stories, letters and so on. Tomorrow I'm pleased to be travelling to Galway for a job interview for the position of Lecturer in Creative Writing and as a kind of archival ambassador for the literary treasures of the late writer. It's a great opportunity to work closely with the archives of an active Creative Writing program, as well as within the archive and how its carefully listed material can be best represented to the university, scholars and the general public.

John McGahern is probably best remembered for his novel Amongst Women (1990), written relatively late in his career - the story of a widowed IRA man Michael Moran who brings up a large family but through his mix of confused love and fear, eventually loses their love and much needed attention, as they grow up and become wise to his muddled and controlling ways (several of them moving to London). A sad story, but someone beautifully sweet despite the pain of the family shifting under Moran's feet - until the only thing left is his stubbornness and the sinking meadow where he goes for walks as an old man...My favourite John McGahern novel, though, is The Leavetaking (1975), a story set in Ireland and England about a schoolteacher who is forced to resign because he gets married outside the Catholic Church. Amongst other things, the novel is a quiet meditation on love, loss, growing up and struggles to find a place in the world for someone caught between Ireland and England. It also dares to be uplifting, or rather the autobiographical character dares to look forward to a better life less controlled by the Irish State at that time (the 50s), but of course, the sense persists that London is merely a temporary excursion away from the power of rural Ireland and its landscape that will draw him back...

Of course, John McGahern is equally remembered as a skilled writer of the short story, a creative form that bears a rich Irish history from James Joyce to William Trevor. McGahern's own Collected Stories appeared in 1992, and its revised edition Creatures of the Earth: New and Selected Stories (with some stories excised) in 2006.

Finally, there is the Memoir (2006) that John McGahern published close to the end of his life - a kind of spiritual re-examination of his beginnings, his family and in particular, his relationship with his mother and father, the two presences that could not control his inner identity more strongly, and more differently. The father is revealed as the forerunner of many fictional fathers he created, a heroic man from the war with the black-and-tans, but a domestic bully who cannot manipulate his family to make them love him, who somehow escapes both sympathy and tragedy, and yet is an obsessive presence for McGahern and the reader alike - for his towering self-pity.

So what remains is the mother, the memory of the half-relationship cut off so abruptly in childhood but that lasted vividly for McGahern...If she has lived, she would have seen him become a writer of great statue, not the priest of their shared dream (a dream of priesthood that McGahern explodes in both his life and work); and yet, given his ability to grace lives far outside of Leitrim in England, France, Spain and the United States - those other countries that McGahern made his temporary homes - how much prouder she would have been.

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