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Posts Tagged ‘Dublin’

searchOne of our favorite people  – the superb author Sarah Stewart Taylor – is someone we turn to when we need a great new book or author to read. Thus, we were thrilled when she agreed to turn her recent trip to Ireland into a Book Jam post about some authors she discovered while abroad. In this post, Sarah discusses the power of literature one discovers when traveling, and how literature provides superb armchair travel when hopping on a plane is just not possible. We hope you enjoy her suggested reading list as much as we do. Thank you Sarah! And, happy travels to all.

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On a trip to Dublin, Ireland recently, I ducked into a fantastic little bookshop in Sandymount. The tables were piled high with new and used books of all kinds, and I asked the proprietor to recommend some Irish mysteries for me. An obsessive fan of both Ireland and crime fiction, I love revisiting one of my favorite places on earth through the works of the Irish crime writers Tana French and John Banville (one of my favorite Irish novelists, writing mysteries as Benjamin Black), and I needed some more titles to get me through until their next ones are published.

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He obliged very nicely and I came home with an extra bag to contain all the books I’d bought. I discovered some terrific new-to-me Irish crime writers, among them Gene Kerrigan, Jane Casey (who is Irish but writes mysteries set in London), Declan Hughes, Adrian McKinty, Brian McGilloway, and Stuart Neville. 

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Reading mysteries about a place is one of my favorite ways to prepare for travel, to prolong the fun of an adventure once I’m home. Donna Leon’s Venice mysteries are among my favorites, focusing on the cases (and the meals) of the appealing Inspector Guido Brunetti and reminding me of past trips to that magical city. I love the mysteries of Cara Black, which always bring me back to trips to Paris.

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It’s also fun to read mysteries about places I haven’t yet been lucky enough to visit. Jason Goodwin’s Inspector Yashim novels, set in the 19th century Ottoman Empire, have made me obsessed with visiting (modern-day) Turkey and Colin Cotteril’s wonderful mysteries set in Cambodia have added that country to my travel bucket list. I absolutely loved a novel by Richard Crompton, set in Kenya and titled Hour of the Red God. It stars a Masai detective named Detective Mollel and was one of my favorite new mysteries of the past few years.

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So — what are your favorite mysteries about places you’ve visited — or would like to?

Cambodia-LP-Traveller

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Mystery Click to listen now or download http://www.box.net/files#/files/0/f/0/1/f_662854061.

In the Woods

Lisa LC began the show with a confession: she’s not  (gasp! –Agatha Christie please don’t turn in your grave)  a mystery reader.  However, after numerous recommendations, she finally picked up a copy of Tana French’s immensely popular In the Woods and was riveted from page one.  Acknowledging that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew entertained her as a child and confessing a contemporary love for the Maisie Dobbs series, she now understands  that she’s actually a closeted mystery lover.   J Lisa C then also came out of the mystery closet,  and confessed her own new found appreciation of this thrilling genre.

And so our show began with recommendations for great mysteries – ones great even for people who don’t think they like mysteries. In the Woods by Tana French – Lisa LC’s review “This woman knows how to write!”  She appreciated the sense of place created  by the author  (Dublin and Ireland in the early seventies and then post-economic boom), the feeling of suspense evoked by French and the intricately psychological aspects of this novel.

 

 

Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time and The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey – J Lisa C likes the precise writing style, subtle and effective character development and the very British tone of these two books by Josephine Tey. Tey was a contemporary of Agatha Christie but perhaps due to lack of movies and television shows depicting her works, she’s not quite as well known.

Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – Lisa LC was intrigued by the look at two continents – Australia and England – and the unraveling of family secrets. Bruno Chief of Police by Martin Walker is another favorite of admitted francophile Lisa LC. This is the story of a police inspector in southern France who encounters small town issues like  family feuds as well big world problems such as racism and the complexities created by the EU and the euro. (J Lisa likes it as well.)

Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series – J Lisa C looks forward to every installment of this series. The books offer a chance to live a bit with a inspector, his wife and his two children – all of whom she admires. It also transports you to Venice  – not a bad place to vacation, even if only in your mind.

Both Lisas love and recommend: Maisie Dobbs novels – A series of books by Jacqueline Winspear that transport the reader into post WWI England and allows insight into what it takes for people and countries to recover from such massive devastation. Louise Penny’s novels set in southern Quebec also made our cut.  We love the main dectective – Inspector Gamache, his family and the characters he befriends as the mysteries unfold.

Because we can’t stop talking about books, we also mentioned the following books, many of which are definitely not mysteries: Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – In The Woods reminded Lisa LC of The Lovely Bones – a best-selling book told from the perspective of a dead child. Still Alice by Lisa Genova – The well-told story of 50-year-old Harvard professor Alice Howland as she grapples with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Wit, A Play by Margaret Edson – A one woman play about living with cancer and dying with grace. Just Kids by Patti Smith – The best selling memoir of life as an artist and life spent loving an artist. The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart – A tale of a beefeater, his wife and their tortoise and of course, the Tower of London.

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Peter Money Interview (Click to Listen)

We were lucky enough to spend a long, rainy lunch hour with Peter Money, a Vermont poet who hails from such diverse places as Napa, Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Cape Cod, Ohio, Dublin and currently Brownsville, VT.  The conversation was truly delightful (and eating Lisa’s pizza and sipping tea didn’t hurt either).

A favorite

Peter’s description of himself as a scavenger in life and in reading led our conversation through a diverse array of topics including:  reading for the purpose of writing, the power of a gift of a book, the Cape Cod Melody Tent, travel in India and Australia, the difference one person can make in the events of the world – in particular Rachel Corrie to whom Peter’s latest book Che is dedicated – the things we use and keep as bookmarks, empty spaces,  the difference email and the internet make in the serendipity of life and reading as a means of developing empathy.

Sprinkled throughout the conversation were quotes by a former teacher of Peter’s –  Allen Ginsberg (“ordinary is made extraordinary by your attention to it” or  the buddhist reminder “Ground Path Fruition” or thinking of writing as “funky independent thought“).   Peter also modeled a superb teaching technique of being able to circle around and tie seemingly unrelated thoughts together.

Speaking of circling back around: we end this episode by playing a little ditty by Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler that not only alludes to one of the themes of our discussion (beach combing) but also provides a mellow finish to a lovely talk.

Actual books we dicussed ranged from:

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Child’s Garden of Verses – First published in 1885, A Child’s Garden of Verses has served as an  introduction to poetry for many generations. Stevenson’s poems celebrate childhood in all its forms.

E.B. White’s works – A writer at The New Yorker and the author of many books of essays, E. B. White also wrote the children’s books Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan.

Gregory Maguire’s Matchless – Every year, NPR asks a writer to compose an original story with a Christmas theme. In 2008, Gregory Maguire reinvented Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl”.

Justine by Lawrence Durrell – Set among the glamour and corruption of 1930s and 1940s Alexandria, the novels of Durrell’s “Alexandria Quartet” (Justine is the first) follow the shifts in allegiances and situations among a diverse group of characters. Peter carried a copy with him while traveling 30 years ago and had that copy with him when we spoke (complete with original bookmarks).

Iraqi Writer Saadi Youssef who has translated Leaves of Grass and Little Prince into Arabic and whose own work is carried by University of Minnesota Press.

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard – from the foreword by John R. Stilgoe – A prism through which all worlds from literary creation to housework to aesthetics to carpentry take on enhanced-and enchanted-significances. Every reader of it will never see ordinary spaces in ordinary ways.

Collected Poems of George Oppen – Oppen, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969, has long been acknowledged as one of America’s foremost modernists.  He was hailed by Ezra Pound as “a serious craftsman, a sensibility which is not every man’s sensibility and which has not been got out of any other man’s book.”

A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel – From tablets to CD-ROM, from book thieves to book burners, bibliophiles and saints, noted essayist Alberto Manguel follows the 4,000-year-old history of the written work whose true hero is the reader.

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde – The Gift defends creativity and of its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money. This book is cherished by artists, writers, musicians, and thinkers.

Hear Peter read some of his work set to original compositions.

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