Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Believe in Santa Claus (really)

If you go to -- the website and facebook page for Hay House USA -- you'll find a little feature article by me entitled "Is Santa Real?" I was delighted when I was asked to write a piece for the site and I'm now listed amongst the many illustrious contributors including H.H. the Dalai Lama! I'm also counting this as me officially getting into the Christmas spirit along with eating my first mince pies yesterday and heading into the Big Smoke (Dublin) today to do some serious shopping. It has begun.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Doris Lessing (1919-2013)

Two of my heroes died recently - one a brilliant writer and the other a brilliant statesman. Since this is my Book Blog, I'll talk about Doris Lessing here while I will speak of Nelson Mandela on my personal blog. I've reviewed my favourite of Lessing's books in earlier posts below, i.e. the Canopus in Argos: Archives series which I am compelled to re-read from time to time. Works of genius, each one of them, so different in style and theme. The two other great favourites are Briefing for a Descent into Hell and Memoirs of a Survivor. All these works she termed "inner space fiction" which dopey critics changed to "space fiction" entirely missing her point (which I quote in my new book)"For there is never anywhere to go but in." Though I loved her very first book, I was never a big fan of what I call her bourgeois women's literature. I can't help my class-based tastes, the same judgement applies to most of Margaret Atwood's work and the two Amis's and so many other middle-class writers. I just can't get excited about middle-class lives, middle-class characters, middle-class mores etc. They are just so ... dull. (Loved Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, of course.) As with Mandela, the tragedy of Lessing's loss is mitigated by the grand age she reached: 94. Her reaction to being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature at the age of 88 was hilarious: "Oh Christ, now I'll have to write a speech."

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Book Launch

Not sure if this will work. It's a little video of my book launch last Friday in Charlie Byrne's Bookshop in Galway. Thank you to many including Charlie Byrne, owner, Vinny Browne, manager, Prof Dáibhí O'Cróinín, my speaker, and last but not least, my friend Maura Walsh, playing the harp. I will be posting about her early music festival in the new year around the time it's happening. Meanwhile good news about PEOPLE OF THE GREAT JOURNEY: it is listed in the Eason's Christmas catalogue under "Books of the Year" (wa-hoo) and my publishers are already talking about the need for a reprint. Not bad when it's only out a few weeks. (Video: Brian Blennerhasset, Butler Sims Ltd for Hay House UK.)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Galway Bay FM Podcast

Follow this link to hear my interview with Vinny Browne of the Arts Show on Galway Bay FM. The podcast is available for one week, so click in soon! The whole show is very interesting but I started yakking at about 14:00.

Monday, November 11, 2013


On Hay House Radio online -- -- at 4:00 pm (going by Irish time)you'll hear me interviewed by the amazing Janey Lee Grace, author/singer/BBC presenter. (Check out her Cola Boy video on youtube, it's fabulous.) Yes, I'm talking about PEOPLE OF THE GREAT JOURNEY and life, the universe and everything. It is proving to be a very busy month but I am not complaining. And check out, I have two excellent reviews already.


Friday, November 29, 6:30-8:00 pm: Charlie Bryne's Bookshop: "The Best Bookshop in Ireland 2013" (Irish Times): Middle Street, Galway City: PEOPLE OF THE GREAT JOURNEY: To be launched by Prof Dáibhí O'Croínín (University of Galway): Guest of Honour, Panchen Otrul Rinpoche: Mediaeval music with harps: Clare wine and cheese.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Radio Interview!

This Friday, 3:30-4:30 I'll be blathering away about life, the universe and everything as well as my new book PEOPLE OF THE GREAT JOURNEY on Dublin NearFM 90.3 on your dial. You can also listen online at It's the book programme called 'Cover to Cover' with Paula Wiseman.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sa DingDing

Posted this a long while back, but it's worth showing again! Also she is mentioned in my new book People of the Great Journey, i.e. my young Tibetan character wears a T-shirt with her image and name on it! Saw her live a few years ago in the Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, for the now defunct World Culture Festival (killed by its own success and riotous after-hour scenes). Sa Dingding sings in Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, Sanskrit and what appears to be her own shamanic language. A brilliant artist.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

People of the Great Journey

Hmm, here's a youtube ad for my new book that I just found. Check out the creepy automatic voice!!! Also I think you can get the e-book super cheap on itunes at the moment for an early promotional deal. It's all out of my hands but I'm very impressed with what my publishers Hay House UK are doing. I've got interviews in magazines and on radio coming up, plus a massive press release and review copy circulation.  

Friday, October 04, 2013


While the official pub date is November 3, I can see from the Hay House UK website that my new book PEOPLE OF THE GREAT JOURNEY is now available in print and e! Here's the link: And don't ask me why Blogger doesn't link anymore but it apparently doesn't so here is the Hay House website to make things easier: and just search for the title or author. Now let's be clear. This is an adult novel - there is a chapter called "Sex and Chocolate" - but it is, like most of my work, a fable nonetheless and yes, there be fairies. Well, a mad Irish púca to be exact. Oh, warning, there are some parts that are fairly harrowing but what can I say, it's about life, the universe and everything and that means there are inevitably dark things in it. Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mongolian Shamanism

Here's a photo of me at an incredible shamanic ritual site at the foot of the Bogd Khan sacred mountain outside Ulaan Baatar. This is the religion of Chinggis Khan, though he didn't let it rule him, as he executed the chief shaman who was trying to create discord amongst his sons and generals. Proper order, state and religion should always be kept separate - there's nothing worse than a power-mad cleric, see the Spanish Inquisition etc. I found a definitive book on the subject Mongolian Shamanism by Prof Purev Otgony, translated by Prof Purvee Gurbadaryn, both Mongolians with traditional backgrounds (as opposed to Western New Age pseudo-knowledge which is best avoided). Meanwhile, hoping to upload a photo of me on a camel over on my regular blog but need to sort out the technology.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Beautiful Little Story

A friend sent this from Mongolia. Well worth watching. (Not long back. More to post later when the rest of me arrives.)

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Event in the Blue Sky

Big day today. We are all heading off for ASRAL's major fund-raising event at the Blue Sky Hotel, the poshest hotel in town, i.e. in Mongolia. All sorts of people have been invited - diplomats, business types, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), artists, politicians and so forth. Now that the Irish economy has collapsed (Ireland has been Asral's chief funder) and the global downturn has affected international generosity it's time to turn to the post-communist era newly-rich classes of Mongolians to help support their fellow countrymen and women who have not prospered in the boom or bust climate.We'll be entertained by Mongolia's finest rock band "Khurd" (means 'speed' in Mongolian), the lead guitarist of whom is a student of Rinpoche's. Two people have come over from Ireland to help promote and organise the event, we've also had two of our major sponsors arrive from England with their son, and we are all dressing in our best. I'm putting on a frock as they say in Ireland and I've spit-polished my lama's shoes in proper naval order (you use water in the lid of the polish tin, a rag, and the polish, no other equipment, but one hour on each shoe, tiny circles. Meditative, actually.) Here's a pic of the Blue Sky Hotel overlooking Sukhbaatar Square. Gorgeous building. Owned by a former president. Most of the property in UB, including giant shopping malls, are owned by politicians or former politicians. Go figure.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Seamus Heaney's Passing

Word came tonight from Ireland that Seamus Heaney died today - our great poet, son of a farmer, sweet Northern Irishman. We lit candles, drank bowls of airag and read his poems aloud in Outer Mongolia - Shane, Eimear and me. I think he might have liked that. Here's my favourite called "Scaffolding": Masons, when they start upon a building,/ Are careful to test out the scaffolding./ Make sure that planks won't slip at busy points,/ Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints./ And yet all this comes down when the job's done/ Showing off walls of sure and solid stone./ So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be/ Old bridges breaking between you and me/ Never fear. We may let the scaffold fall/ Confident that we have built our wall.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Horse Cafe

Slowly but surely getting some photos up. Here's a cute shot from the big horse race day. We sat down in one of the many canopied food stalls to enjoy khusheer (deep fried mutton pancakes)with suutei tsai (milky tea) when a posse of riders drew up to order the same for their lunch and we were surrounded. In a sudden head-staggering loss of brains I went to offer this horse some left-over meat. Doh. Like that herbivore would bite. (Photo credit: Stephanie Ng, but it was my idea)

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Great Book About Mongolia

Just finished reading this in bits and pieces at night before konking out after many a busy day. (Being Rinpoche's attendant is not unlike being part of a travelling road show. Sometimes I am carting about a huge amount of things and I call myself his temee or camel, lol.) Kohn writes of Mongolia, Mongolians and ex-pats in Mongolia with great warmth and humour. He also gives you a galloping whirlwind tour of Mongolian history, geography and politics which is a terrific introduction to the country. Bit outdated, mind you, as he's writing about the early 2000s and the fact is everything changes radically here in the space of a year, i.e. government, economy, landscape (UB is a boom town with buildings going up everywhere in the blink of an eye while the countryside may or may not be affected by extreme weather conditions). Well worth a read whether you are coming here or not. Sometimes laughed out loud he's so funny. Love the joke about Brezhnev, Mao and Tsedenbel. Will tell next time. His website is

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mongolian Panorama

The heart of Mongolia is a vast breathtaking freedom of sky and plain. I spent the day with thousands of riders and their horses racing into the Guinness Book of Records as the largest horse race ever held. Last count I heard was 4,900. I have pics of the race but haven't figured out yet how to access my own camera. Here's a photo from Stephanie, the young volunteer English teacher from Singapore, who was born in Canada (but left when she was one year old, though she sounds Canadian to me nonetheless!), i.e. she's teaching English to Mongolian children, young adults and monks for ASRAL. After the horse race our driver Naranbold took us to his family ger up in the hills. (click on the pic and you'll get a better view) And if you want to see me in Mongolian dress switch over to my regular blog. There you will see from where the Star Wars costume designer swiped Queen Amidala's head-gear! (Photo credit: Stephanie Ng)

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Journey of a Lifetime

We were brought from the airport (see pic on Blog) directly to Lam Rim Monastery in Ulaan Baator, where my lama - Panchen Otrul Rinpoche - was given a mighty welcome with conches blowing, yellow hats, parasols and crowds of monks and lay people. I didn't move fast enough to get behind him and so ended up squashed to death in the good-natured crowd trying to get into the temple. Luckily I had Rinpoche's bag with me so I held it in front of me like a relic and kept saying "ootch la reh (phonetic 'excuse me' in Mongolian) Rinpoche bag" and they kept squeezing me through the press of bodies until I was literally spat out into the temple. Rinpoche was sitting up on a high throne and saw me ejected from the crowd and burst out laughing. I was laughing too. Apparently he told his monks to go find me but I got there first. Now in the first photo here you see us having lunch in a ger - Mongolian tent, do not call it a yurt which is a Russian word, they are a proud people and now free from Russia - with Rinpoche in the place of honour. As his attendant, I am always placed near him. How cool is that? Honestly, I keep pinching myself to be sure this is real. The second picture shows a ger from the outside. This is a traditional Mongolian home, easy to pack up and move on a wagon or horse or camel or yak. Sadly the nomadic herders have been coming in thousands to the city as the bad winters (tsud) have been killing their livestock. These shanty towns or ger cities lack basic amenities like electricity and water, schools, hospitals etc My lama's charity ASRAL ("care" in Mongolian) strives to help these people, especially the children, with hot meals, clothes, health clinics, educational programmes and so on. I am proud to be assisting him in this work. (Photo credit: Ueli Minder)

Sunday, August 04, 2013


I meant to post about my trip earlier than this but I was in the last stages of final proofs for my new book out at the end of the year. (See below.) Also was using spare time to take Mongolian language lessons online thanks to youtube (they work, I'm gabbing away here and people can actually understand what I'm saying!). Also viewed videos and read books. So quick headlines: I am travelling as the attendant of a high Tibetan lama (see who comes every year to Mongolia to oversee his monasteries and his charities (ASRAL, an NGO). I am also taking notes, of course, for my next book which will be a work of non-fiction about this lama and my travels with him to India and Outer Mongolia (Inner Mongolia is ruled by the Chinese, while Outer Mongolia is free and independent now that the Russians have scarpered). I can hardly describe my experiences, they are so overwhelming. I feel at times as if I am in the middle of a National Geographic adventure documentary. I keep thinking "is this really me here, sitting at this table to the right of the lama in a ger [Mongolian tent] surrounded by Chinghis Khan's people all smiling away at me?" I have to say - and this is the truth - it feels strangely like home!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens

I read this book by Jack Weatherford a while back as part of my preparations for an upcoming trip to Outer Mongolia (more about that anon). It's an amazing if at times horrific tale, i.e. what happened to the subsequent generations of women after they lost power. But Genghis Khan's love and respect for his daughters is astonishing to read - he put them in charge of all of his territories while he kept his sons by his side for battle - not least because we are not told this by other writers in the field. You would think there were no Mongolian women, never mind Mongolian queens, if you go by John Man's version of Mongolian history in his supposedly definitive Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection. Sadly and annoyingly, Man [have to laugh at the symbolic name] is simply carrying on the male tradition of excluding women from historical records. Weatherford describes in his interview how large chunks of The Secret Life of the Mongols - the 13th century record of Genghis Khan's life - were removed by later Chinese historians, those chunks being specifically about Genghis Khan's daughters and how he honoured them. The other thing I love about this interview is the author himself. What a lovely man - intelligent, erudite, humble, respectful of the Mongolian people and their language, culture, and history, and so indignant on behalf of the women who have been cut. And it's a great read, by the way, as exciting as a novel though harrowing at times.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Castle Rock

Here is a pic I took a few years back when hiking in the Mountains of Mourne (well worth all their mention in songs and poems!). You can see that even if castles or giants didn't exist, fantasy writers would have no problem inventing them with such natural inspiration. These are perfect for any stone fortress, witch's lair, eagle's eyrie, Seige Perilous, Westernesse outpost ... you get my meaning. Are we really surprised at the kind of mythic fiction that comes out of these Celtic isles?

Monday, July 08, 2013

Tristram Shandy

Right, if anyone else out there is reading this daft and ingenious book, do get in touch. There are so many incredible things about it, including this black page to denote grief. Laurence Sterne broke all the rules of the novel long before James Joyce did and yet people went on writing in the conventional standard mode as if he and his marvel of a book never existed. Of course he was born in Ireland, of Anglo-Irish stock, but the English have claimed him, the way Americans are always claiming notable Canadians. (Harrumph.) It takes ages to read. Over a month later, I'm not even a third in. There was an entire legal section in Latin to wade through, not to mention the hundreds of minute digressions he takes as he tells his story. He is supposedly telling the tale of his life but a good chunk of the way in I am still at his conception. (Every time I am about to give up on the book he says something outrageous or hilarious. No prudery of the Victorians here!)I have dipped in and out as well, so came across more astonishing breaks with form, e.g. he writes about Mrs Wadham and decides his readers can fill in her characteristics themselves. So there are several blank pages with chapter numbers on top. Oh and very early in the book he says something in a huff and tells you to leave if you don't like it and then does something like this ________________ shut the door _______________ to put you out, ha ha. The book was published in 1759 and was all the rage by 1760, so his society did appreciate it. He was quite famous, after being a poor parson. But it seems the following generations haven't recognised or valued his ground-breaking originality, which is strange given the cult of James Joyce's Ulysses. I only know two people who have read Tristram Shandy and they are both librarians.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Singing Stone in Lego

Ach, I love my readers. Look what I just found by sheer accident. The Singing Stone adapted for lego. Hilarious. And yes I am posting this at some godawful hour of the morning. It has been a looooonnnnnnng day.

Friday, May 17, 2013

People of the Great Journey

At last I can make my announcement! The delay was due to contract negotiations. I just don't believe in claiming things until the official paperwork is done and dusted. So here is a draft of the cover of my new book, best described as an adult fairy tale but I would also use the term "mystic fiction." I LOVE the cover design. A question has been added just above the stones (that's the Callanish megalith in the Outer Hebrides): WOULD YOU GO IF YOU WERE CALLED? My new publishers are Hay House UK (of the Louise Hay empire)and I love them to bits. See my blog post below with pic of yummy lunch. They have entirely renewed my faith in the publishing industry though I suspect they are the exception to the rule. The book will be out in November of this year, just before Christmas! Print and e-book will both be available in the UK, Eire, USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand (I think that's everybody). Did I mention phone calls from Hollywood? No, I didn't. But there have been and, as with the announcement of the book, I will hold my fire until locked and loaded. (Hmm, military flavour to both posts today.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Proust is one of those authors like Anais Nin, Dostoevsky and Victor Hugo who separate the chicken readers from the chicken hawks. Do you have the mental stamina and intellectual acumen to take them on? Do you have the time? I attempted a run at Proust in my teenaged blue-stocking period when I was determined to prove myself an intellectual heavy-weight. Failed in the first round. Lost the will to live. But here is a little gem that gives you a soupcon of his brilliance without you having to make a seven-course meal of In Search of Lost Time. De Botton's book is not the "dazzling" work John Updike and various critics claim it to be - the mere mention of Proust creates shock and awe in others - and I'm not entirely convinced that the author critic has actually read Proust as most of his quotes come from letters, diaries, critical pieces, friends' memoirs and so on, in other words secondary not primary material; however, it is a charming, entertaining and thought-provoking work - aussi trés amusant - and I suspect Proust would have liked it. Best of all, it has encouraged me to take another look at that daunting writer. Perhaps. Maybe. Oh God ... life is too short ...

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Article in Network Magazine

I wrote an article about the year I am spending at Jampa Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre in the green countryside of County Cavan. It has been published in the April/May/June edition of Network, Ireland's holistic magazine which publishes mind, body, spirit and ecology pieces. It also advertises all the weird and wonderful workshops, events, retreats, and talks available in the Irish alternative community. Under new management, the magazine has a glossier look with full colour graphics and is well worth subscribing to. Here's their website: I did mention I was helping to run a Tibetan Buddhist Centre this year, didn't I? It's not exactly a sabbatical as I am writing copious notes for my next book which will tell of my relationship with my teacher, Panchen Otrul Rinpoche, including travels in his company to India (last year) and Outer Mongolia (this year). In my mind, the book is a cross between Herman Hesse's Journey to the East and Andrew Harvey's Hidden Journey. But will it be fiction or non-fiction? That is the question. Won't know for sure until I am well into the writing of it.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Beyond Belief

So I fire up the google news today and what do I find? A meth-dealing Catholic priest who laundered his ill-gotten gains through his sex toy shop and a book written by a survivor of the Church of Scientology - the niece of the head of Scientology no less - exposing a childhood of hard labour, cruelty and abuse. You couldn't make this stuff up. The priest is looking at 14 years and the book is called Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and my Harrowing Escape. So, what am I talking about here? Cults who abuse children in the name of religion and whose upper echelons remain untouched by law.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Staring at Lakes by Michael Harding

Thought I would review an Irish book for St Paddy's Day. It's the most recent work of fiction I've read, so very fitting. I've known Michael since the 1980s when we used to camp out at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annagmakerrig, an artist's retreat in the heart of the Irish countryside. (That's tongue in cheek about the camping, it's a luxurious mansion serving Ballymaloe meals.) Other writers and critics have said this book is wonderful, and it's on the Irish bestseller list, so you needn't think I'm biased when I give it the 20 minutes of well-reasoned praise we all covet in a review. It's a compelling, if harrowing read. Being non-fiction, it's not his usual kind of work - I've read Priest and The Trouble With Sarah Gullion, both powerful, beautifully written books. The first is my favourite, a collection of short stories from the time he was a Catholic priest. I also saw one of his plays at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin: the fantastic and fantastical Una Pooka. He's a man with a raw wild energy just barely locked inside him, like a sleeping dragon or volcano, which erupts into prose, mad partying, and - according to his memoir - black episodes of self-loathing and despair. "You're dangerous," I said to him once, only half joking. "I wouldn't want to be considered harmless," he replied. Staring at Lakes is not an easy read. For one thing, it's all over the shop, jumping through time, with tone and mood as changeable as the Irish weather. Form reflects content! If you are inclined to depression, you just might find yourself too close to the border of that country. His honesty is excrutiating. And he's devastatingly hard on himself, like most crucified Irish men of his age and background. In contrast, it's a joy to read about the love of and for his wife and child: islands of joy in the sea of suffering. Ireland is a small place. We all end up crossing each other's songlines. Michael not only writes of his time at Annaghmakerrig - must say, I remember him having much more fun than he writes of, indeed leading us all on Dionysian dances!; but he also describes his relationship with Tibetan Buddhism and the same lama who is my teacher. (I'll be following in Michael's footsteps when I journey to Outer Mongolia this year in the company of the lama.) One of the most potent pieces of writing in this book is the description of a young Tibetan's life and the murder of the boy's mother by soldiers. So, I highly recommend the book, but don't expect for a minute, a light or entertaining read.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Readers Come to Ireland

From time to time I get the most amazing correspondence from my readers. Sometimes they write to tell me that my stories helped them through a difficult time such as their parents' divorce or the death of a sibling. I feel so sad for them, but I'm also glad that my books could provide some solace. I also receive happy tales of decisions to journey to Ireland and travel the routes my characters have taken. This is a pic of one reader who ended up on the Hill of Tara, the seat of the ancient high kings of Eire, with her copy of The Hunter's Moon. (Yes, I have Katherine's permission to blog her.) Another two young women - Shannon and Eleri - wrote an incredible email about how they met when working in a remote camp overlooking a glacier in British Columbia. Sharing a tent together (must ask them what on earth their jobs were, sounds very Canadian) they discovered a mutual love of books including a favourite childhood book whose title they couldn't remember. But they did remember two girls travelling around Ireland in pursuit of the fairies and they decided they would do the same thing! Their email tells of a magical mystery tour that did indeed follow Gwen and Findabhair from Tara, criss-crossing the countryside and up to Inch Island in County Donegal. Though they found Ireland changed in many ways - the homeless in Dublin, the urban encroachment on the green fields, the fact it simply is NOT safe to hitch-hike here anymore (though many still do) - they were delighted to find that Irish people are still wonderfully warm and friendly, the old stones and castles are still standing, and the fairies may yet be looking out for curious travellers.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Reader Review in Images!

I meant to post this a long time ago but forgot. (Unless, of course, I did and it's somewhere back in the past blogs. My memory is getting worse the older I get. I think I'm getting flakier too.) This is a great review chiefly of The Hunter's Moon with short references to the other three books in the Chronicles of Faerie series. I love my readers. They are so creative and talented.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lunch with New Publishers

Just back from London where I had a gorgeous lunch with my new publishers. Here's a pic which the Managing Editor took for me with her i-thing. There were four of us altogether and we chatted for ages. It was so like the old days, when editors weren't stressed out of their brains and afraid for their jobs (I did mention that my NY editor got fired last year and was replaced by a ditz from Disney, didn't I?). We talked about books and films and art and life, rather than profit margins, sales, markets, mass retail etc A publisher that doesn't function on fear! Once I name them you'll understand how this is possible in the global recession, but I can't say until the contracts are signed. However, when it's all done and dusted we are talking publication in print and e by October of this year. HURRAH. Watch this space for further announcements.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Anna Karenina

This is an absolutely gorgeous film.Of course I'm biased. Kiera Knightly is my favourite actress and Joe Wright is one of my favourite film directors. The fantastic script by Tom Stoppard, the acting, the costumes, the music, the choreography, the play on theatre and opera, the breathtaking scenes - all of it: stunning. A masterpiece. Wright is such an interesting film-maker. He can re-make a classic while keeping its heart and soul completely intact. And he has sent me back to the book which I haven't read since I was a teenager. At that time I went through the Russian greats to prove myself an intellectual and have to admit I didn't enjoy them. Now I'm savouring Anna Karenina, thrilled that it's a big fat book that will last for ages; amazed  to discover that it isn't turgid and boring (my youth? the translation?) but beautifully written, lyrical, modern in sensibility, moving, compelling ... a joy to read.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Cloud Atlas

I'm rarely au fait with the latest literary sensation and tend to discover wonderful works long after everyone else has, but better late than never! Was alerted to this 2004 Booker contender - who the hell beat him?! - by its film trailer which was run before The Hobbit (more about that anon). I knew immediately I had to see the film and then I realised it was originally a book. Mirabile dictu. Off to the library and had it read in two days (would have been one but Finn was home and her thesis had to be proof-read. Omigod, I barely grasped what it was about - she's an Earth and Ocean scientist - but I was a great help with the syntax). Could hardly believe the writer is a young man and this is only his third work. Will be getting the others pronto. Apparently he lives in Ireland though he's English. I doubt it's for the tax haven as artists are only left unscathed up to €40,000 and he's definitely made more with film rights alone. Anyhoo, it's one of those curl-up-on-the-sofa-all-day- or lie-awake-all-night-in-your-bed-because-you-can't-put-it-down sort of books. Delicious stories. Brilliant characters. Nail-biting moments. Exquisite writing. My only quibble: though the pearly string of the universe (yes that is an allusion to string theory) is beautifully drawn, the necklace itself - ultimate Reality - and the neck upon which it is hung - the One! the One! - is left unwritten. Well, he's young and probably doesn't believe in answers, only questions.