Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene

Guest Post by “A View From Kerry”

June 03, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

Sentimentality doesn’t win at Listowel

This being an unusually hot day I sit in the shade of the Half-Way bar, half-way(ish) between Listowel and Tralee. This being Listowel Writers’ Week I sit a few kilometres from the festival where the winner of the Irish Fiction Award will be announced. I’ve been dreading this moment. Not ‘Let the Great World Spin’ (LTGWS) please, although I note that the prize is not called the ‘Best Irish Fiction’.

First of all, I must state that I own a signed (by the author, not by me) first edition of the book, and that no-one will borrow it – or any of my books come to that. So at least I show one of my failings.

The entire LTGWS is shot through with sentimental writing – a pair of Irish brothers whose father leaves the family home at an early stage, the poor mother dying of cancer, the girl with a concience, the prositutes with a heart of gold, the jewish judge and his wife who mourns her son lost to war and on and on and on. There is also the unnamed tightrope walker tip-toeing between the great World Trade Towers back in the 1970′s.

Enough already, as Colum would write.

It is always a bit pernickity to find fault in a book because of historical details, but if the author wishes to establish some credibility then surely a bit of accuracy is called for. Within the first few pages of the book we are informed that the boys grew up in Sandymount on Dublin Bay in the mid-1950′s. On weekend mornings the brothers walked with their mother on the beach where “Two enormous red and white power station chimneys broke the horizon to the east” (p12). I am a child of fifties Dublin and I thought those chimneys were not built until the early 1970′s. I checked, I’m right. If I’m wrong tell me, I’ll delete the post.

But that does not damn a book.

Every so often Colum (should I now start writing Mr. McCann?) can’t resist relieving himself of some witticism; a “hospital that looked like it need a hospital“, “Miro, Miro on the wall“. At other times Mr. McCann employs sledgehammer, if not a pneumatic drill, to ram home some point he wishes to make. Just one example of this is where he takes three-quarters of a page to descibe death by many means – death by this, death by that. Or, as he himself sums up the list ” A stupid, endless menu of death“. Quite. I was reminded (unfavourably) of Martin Amis and his page of ‘fuck’ in ‘Success’ (1978).

Ulitimately I found the book to be full of sentimentality, and Irish sentimentality at that. The device of the tight-rope walker and the Twin Towers is very flimsy. There is the air of a movie script about the whole thing.

Enough already.


Great thanks to @KerryView for this blogpost, first published here.

Google Alert finds Listowel Writers’ Week today

May 22, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

Bookpaths – bringing together literature & place seem to be quoting from a blurb when it says

“Since it’s inception in 1970, Listowel Writers’ Week has been recognised as the primary event in Ireland’s literary calendar.”

Surely that’s a bit OTT?

How mad is it to have the Dublin Writers’ Festival on at the same time as Listowel? That claims to be “Ireland’s premier literary event”. These sort of claims do no one a service I think. What do you think of that sort of advertising claim?

Just discovered that Dublin Writers’ Festival has a blog too. I left a comradely comment there. Why don’t you do the same- so that together the festivals support each other – spreading the news about how good Ireland is as a place for Festivals.

The Plan for Blogging #LWW10

May 14, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, historical, starting up, video, workshop

This is the news. We are going to blog this Festival – the Listowel Writers’ Week Festival 2010.

From now on there will be fresh content here almost every day. During the Festival, there will be a blogfest – a stream of posts. We intend to do our best to bring you some of the flavour of Writers’ Week – no matter where you are.

This is the 40th year of the Festival. The founders would expect us to share the goodies with the whole world – not simply keep the excitement in Listowel.

Of course, there’s no way to capture the atmosphere of Listowel during Writers’ Week and export it. You need to be in the bars, on the streets, at the workshops soaking it all up. But not everyone can do this. There are people all over the world who can’t travel to Co Kerry Ireland at the start of June. Some can’t afford it. Others are not well enough to make the journey. Others have other commitments. There’s no end to the reasons why most people won’t be in Listowel.

However Listowel can reach out wherever the internet goes. We can write reports and analysis of the proceedings. We can bring you news and gossip. We can put up podcasts – audio recordings (and the technology has made this much easier this year). Even video is coming …

Help us. Please give us a hand. Lend us your time & talent.
We’re about to publish the names of people who’ve volunteered to be in the team that’ll produce this publication. An email, postcard, Tweet, Facebook message – even a phone call will do.

Wouldn’t it be great if each of the literary workshops got someone to report on how it went – the feast of content we’d have for posterity.
How good would it be if we could get each of the tutors to offer us a short piece – in their own individual style?
Posterity matters – the legacy of Listowel Writers’ Week deserves to be honoured. We’ll do our best for you.

“A view from Kerry” blog

April 14, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, connections

Great to find “A View From Kerry“. There is a lovely provocative piece called “Listowel Writers Wrong” here.

Do you expect the Festival to present itself as if it was professionally run? Or do you find it charming when the spelling is wrong? Does it make a difference that the Festival is organised by volunteers? Or would it be better to expect volunteers to get it right?

You can even follow the publisher on Twitter @kerryview

Emerging Writer publicises Competitions

February 03, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, blogs, competition

New blogpost from Emerging Writer.

Time to get ready to enter your writing for Listowel Writers’ Week competitions…

Joy of Writing too…

Publicity for LWW2010 Competitions

January 27, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, competition, connections

Good to see the word getting out on the internet.

Here’s Arts Grant Finder “blog” spreading Listowel’s writing competitions on 26 January.

Seems to be a useful place to look for stories about the arts round the world. I even spotted a feature on El Bulli closing for 2012 & 2013. Perhaps El Bulli will close up and never be again, and I won’t ever get there…

UisceBots – great blog post on Jennifer Farrell

January 21, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs, connections, historical, memoir, participants, tutors, workshop

Jennifer Farrell, Nuala O’Faolain and Listowel Writers’ Week are featured in this lovely piece of writing of memoir…

UisceBots is from Dublin, a blogger since April 2006. He doesn’t want anyone under 18 reading his stuff.

I admire this piece. Tis good isn’t it?

Book Festivals round World including Listowel

January 06, 2010 By: ana Category: blogs, connections, events

From BiblioBuffet a useful list of book festivals in 2010. Lots in Ireland, including Listowel….

Looks like an interesting blog too

Cedar Lounge Revolution Blog on Listowel

December 22, 2009 By: ana Category: blogs, connections, historical

The Cedar Lounge Revolution won the best political blog in Irish Blog Awards 2009.

This is an interesting take on Listowel today…

A Rumour about

September 24, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs, organisers, Reflections

I’ve heard a rumour that Writers’ Week has appointed a person to produce an official blog of the 2010 Festival, the 40th one …

Anyone heard any more?

Since 2009 Writers’ Week, we the bloggers have unfortunately had no contact with the Organising Committee of Writers’ Week.

This has saddened me. But it may be the sort of world we live in, sometimes…

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