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Archive for the ‘novels’

Colm Toibin reads from “Brooklyn”

May 29, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: events, novels

queue_for_colm_toibinDespite getting to St. John’s Theatre with more than 10 minutes to spare, the room is already nearly full, with a dearth of free adjoining seats which means that I’m forced to reneigue on my promise to Rosaleen Glennon that I’d hold a seat for her. I’m safely ensconced at the back and have the laptop open and booted up. There is an announcement from one of the committee that the reading will transfer to the Listowel Arms Hotel due to the huge queue outside the door. As usual, a large swathe of the crowd, contrary to “orders”, gets up and makes for the exits as if to escape a particularly nasty stink. The man seated next to me remarks that it’s typical. Twenty minutes later we are all seated comfortably in the large conference room in the Arms Hotel.
Joanna Keane starts the proceedings by delivering a well put together introduction and a short bio of Colm Tóibín which includes a cryptic (at least to me) reference to “Paradise“. As Colm approaches the podium to start, he and Joanna embrace.
Colm begins by informing us that “Brooklyn” originated as a short story. He talks at length about where the story came from.
He taught Jane Austen (not literally of course!) – she doesn’t use flashbacks which are a “form of laziness“. He remarks that a large number of Irish short stories deal with returned immigrants. He mentions a story called Nightfall by Daniel Corkery, one by Benedict Kiely and another by Brian MacMahon.

The holding of a dance can have an electrifying effect on a group of people“.

The novel started with five sentences. Seasickness played an important part, as did a shared toilet which idea he gleaned from an experience he had with his wife on a trip up the red sea. He reads from the point where Eilish is back in her cabin after the dinner on the boat to America. There follows a very vivid description of bladder and bowel movements under duress, completed by a graphic description of vomiting that has a large number of the audience laughing, and the rest caught in that uncomfortable tornness between wanting to laugh, feeling embarrassed and memories of private humiliation that are too close for comfort.
He struggles to get Miss MacAdam’s slightly northern accent.
He mentions that the best early recordings of traditional Irish music were made in New York.
The last section he reads is from the dance at Christmas.
Colm reads beautifully: his voice conveys all the tenderness, pathos, pain and conflict of the character he is describing .

There follows a Question and Answer session which unearths some nuggets:
There is “something in your system that guides the narrative” at crucial points in the novel writing process.
The Wexford coast appears with its place names in all Colm’s books, because it must. “You write out of your spirit, you DNA in terms of subject and style“; “You write from the self
you try and have the feelings, you try and render them while you’re working
It’s finding things in memory … memory is no good to you: you need to imagine it ….

He has just described the process of writing poetry I remark.
What is the link between memory and imagination I ask myself.

Jung Chang checks in

May 28, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: novels

I’m seated on the sofa just beside the lifts in the reception area of the Listowel Arms Hotel because it is comfortable, there is good wireless reception and a wall socket to recharge the PowerBookG4 as I blog. I look up from what I’m typing and spot Jung Chang walk past into the lift – she is wearing a smart chocolate brown coat and has a small suitcase with her. She has just checked in.

She is giving a reading this evening at 7.00 in the hotel – that’s just under 4 hours away. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend as I am heading out to Duagh for some dinner and a change of clothes in time for tonight’s Open Mic Poetry session MCed by George Rowley at the Kingdom Bar on Church St.

I’m hoping one of my fellow-bloggers – Paul O’Mahony or Jeremy Gould – can catch her reading.

Workshops we haven’t yet featured…

May 27, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: creative writing, novels, participants, tutors, workshop

Julia Bell on Writing Funny

  • turn a good joke into a good piece of fiction
  • write funny without turning out cartoons
  • difference between comic hyperbole & just plain old melodrama
  • developing comic characters
  • using point of view & structure to tell stories…to amuse and entertain.

Brian Dillon on Memoir Writing, author of “In the Dark Room”

  • first-person writing through consideration of history, methods & motivations of memoir
  • autobiographical narratives: Vladimir Nabokov, Joan Didion & Dave Eggers
  • confession in contemporary culture
  • how memories may be remade as literature.
  • experiment writing a short piece of prose memoir.

Declan Hughes on Crime Writing

Declan Hughes reads from his new novel

Declan Hughes reads from his new novel

  • anatomy of a crime novel.
  • crime writing forensically examined through character, dialogue, action, plot & structure.

Paddy Breathnach on Writing for Screen

E.M Forster wrote of the story, “It has only one merit, that of making the audience want to know what happens next. And conversely it can have only one fault, that of making the audience not want to know what happens next.”

  • ways of achieving the former and avoiding the latter by
  • recognising what you’re trying to write: tone, genre & simple stuff that’s often forgotten
  • mythic journeys & sequence theories that help structure your screenplay.

Michael Harding on Writing for Theatre

Putting the story on the stage.

  • finding your story.
  • what is the best starting point for a story?
  • examination of characters in the story & the world of the story
  • shaping your story, how to structure & shape as play for theatre
  • essential rules & principles of the craft
  • making your story work on the stage
  • examination of the personal & socio-political aspect of your story
  • how your story must serve the requirements of the audience.

Martina Evans on Advanced Poetry

  • Everything written is as good as it is dramatic – Robert Frost
  • screenwriter Waldo Salt spoke of thinking like a poet in order to visualise the Dustin Hoffman character in Midnight Cowboy
  • explore film techniques as a way of creating lyrics that are vivid compressed narratives.

Matthew Sweeney on Poetry Getting Started

  • Robert Frost: ‘Poetry is a fresh look and a fresh listen’
  • fresh look at the world around us
  • fresh listen to the language people are using
  • looking at poems that do this & taking your cue from them
  • writing in a way that might surprise you
  • If you surprise yourself, you just might surprise your reader.’(Frost)

Sheila O’Flannagan on Popular Fiction

  • practical, interactive
  • building a popular fiction, covering characterisation, story development, writing skills & editing
  • advice on how to get publisher
  • how to work with a publisher.

Carlo Gebler on Writing a Novel

  • start a novel, advance a novel or finish a novel
  • a better sense of the book you want to write
  • how to set about starting it, advancing it or finishing it.
  • those with work already written should bring it to the workshop
  • tutor cannot undertake to read it outside of the class.

David Park on Creative Writing Advanced

  • construct a piece of fiction, having focused on the cornerstones of structure, characterisation, setting and perspective
  • be willing to share both self and work
  • feedback given individually on all work produced.

Hopefully some of these workshop leaders will write a piece for us…

and

Hopefully those of you who are at these workshops will also write for us…

Irish Book Awards Won by LWW-shortlisted Barry

May 07, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, historical, novels

Congrats to Sebastian Barry, who not a British writer.

The Secret Scripture has won the Irish Book Award, Hughes & Hughes sponsored Irish Novel of the Year 2009

It’s shortlisted for LWW Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award.

How’s this quote, which helps kick off The Secret Scripture

“… love of truth, which in some minds is innate and immutable, necessarily leads to a love of secret memoirs and private anecdotes.”

- Maria Edgeworth, Preface to Castle Rackrent

- another book on my list of Irish women authors to read.


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