Monday, May 17, 2010

*Rampant Abuse of the Asterisk*

Day 97 of the “What are you reading, and why?” project. A regular Babbitt’s customer is now reading The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction, edited by Colm Toibin, and was thrilled to discover it on our shelves. Where it no longer resides.

Published in 2000, this anthology covers a great span of time, and range of writers, including Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, Maeve Binchy (may I just say that my cousin’s baby is named Maeve?!), Roddy Doyle, William Trevor (ah!), Emma Donahue, and Colum McCann. And another decade of Irish writing has gone on since.

Our happy customer had read The Master and The Heather Blazing by Toibin and various works by several of the authors represented in the anthology and was eager to discover more authors and more samples* of those she likes.

Toibin’s newest novel is Brooklyn, which won Britain’s Costa** (previously Whitbread) Book Award in Fiction and was on the Man Booker Prize*** long list in 2009, along with William Trevor’s Love and Summer. (Sheldon is reading the 2009 winner, Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, and so was Mary, in a previous blog entry!)

**Costa Coffee! (This should please Coffee Lovin’ Mom and a number of other addicts. And this, of course, makes perfect sense. If you drink enough coffee, you will not fall asleep reading.)

From reading The Master myself, recommended by Lizabeth, and the reviews of some of his other works, I know that Toibin is a subtle writer, trusting the quiet build in fiction, and knowing the rich complexity of life will present itself if we, the readers, pay attention. So I’m thinking his Irish fiction selections must be attentive, too.

***And now I shall be attentive to the winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize, to be awarded 40 years after the publication of the nominees, due to a shift-in-rules glitch back then, because Shirley Hazzard, one of my favorites, is on the list, although I have not read the nominated book, The Bay of Noon. She is on the short list, winner to be announced May 19, coming right up!!

*Our “regular” (nothing to do with coffee) customer likes the idea of the Irish fiction anthology so she gets a preview of various authors before she spends time and/or money on longer works by someone she won’t like. She pointed to one of the authors listed on the cover and said he was “weird.”

Names have been omitted to protect the unknown. The asterisk has been abused because I am linear-time challenged. I like coffee.


Kathleen said...

Brooklyn, interestingly, was also the One Book, One City read in Chicago this year!

seana said...

I did not know of the Lost Man Booker Prize, and am very curious as to who will win. Although basically it's just good that all these books are being given a second look.

And, no, I have not read a single one of them.

Kathleen said...

Bram Stoker is represented in the Irish Fiction book! And, as Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac tells us, today is the day Bram Stoker mounted a dramatic reading of Dracula on the stage to secure its theatrical copyright even before he published the novel.

seana said...

Actually, I knew about the Irishness of Stoker, because I stayed in a guest house in Dublin made from places that not only he but Lafcadio Hearn had once resided. It was pretty cool, especially since I had not thought of either of them as Irish before.

Kathleen said...

And I handled a Modern Library edition of Lafcadio Hearn yesterday at work! **Twilight Zone music** I always hear Lafcadio Hearn praised by other writers.

seana said...

I haven't read him either, except maybe a fragment here and there, but the guy was everywhere--Japan, New Orleans, Trinidad. He's been recommended to me a few times by people I respect. I'd really better check him out.

Susan said...

Personally, I am fond of abusing the ampersand!


Julie Kistler said...

Yesterday I found out by accident that asterisk is marqué d'astérisque in French. (Or at least google thinks so.) I found that oddly compelling. I think I want to have a new pseudonym for some sort of book and it shall be Marqué d'Astérisque. Perhaps science fiction or fantasy. What do you think? Maybe Marquée so you'd know I'm a girl.

Kathleen said...

Excellent pen name!