Thien leads shortlist for Baileys Women’s prize for Fiction

Also banished is Annie Proulx with her bulky yarn about the timber industry, Barkskins, in which almost as many characters were felled as trees. It would be very satisfying to see it win, but Thien has tackled a complex history. Big names and expected contenders were among the fallers as the shortlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction which includes one debut novelist, was announced. Marie’s desire to understand the past opens the door for the reader. Thien brilliantly choreographs the dense source material she brings to a narrative rich in ideas, history, politics and culture. Among the six finalists for the UK prize, now in its 22nd year of an existence which has seen it change its name along with its sponsors, is one previous winner. Eimear McBride on Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist Justin Keating: completing his life’s work Nothing on Earth by Conor O’Callaghan: April’s Irish Times Book Club choice Veteran author Former winner Linda Grant, is not only the senior British writer on the shortlist, she is the veteran author here. It is a major work and has, as expected, reached the shortlist and has a serious claim on the outcome. Alderman’s presence on the shortlist is significant and although she is not an obvious winner, this is important and timely recognition. Thien’s concern is the truth. An adored young wife fails to conceive and her husband is ordered to take a second wife. Tremain has seldom been better and it had seemed a potential winner – it should have won. Any enterprising theatre director on the look out for a text as a potential script to adapt into a stark two-hander for a dying relationship might consider this book. Melancholic and limpid, it is a muted, atmospheric work. It is a sprawling work but its admirers will love it so much that its grumbling detractors will just have to seethe in silence. All will be revealed when the £30,000 prize, currently seeking a new sponsor, is decided in London in June. Widely expected to win last year’s Man Booker prize, it draws on the experiences of her Malaysian-Chinese parents and their families. On the day it was announced on the long list I was enthusiastic, anticipating that it might confirm Riley’s return to the quality of her debut Cold Water (2002) and the brilliant second novel Sick Notes (2004). The Power brings the …

Justin Keating: completing his life’s work

This delighted me. We can’t know what else he might have added (or indeed altered, come the revision stage). Much was written “in flow” or while Justin was far from his library. His widow Barbara recalls how he would settle at the table on holiday in southern France and become wholly absorbed in his writing. At the heart of Justin’s book – indeed, his stated motivation in writing it – is the call for each of us to continuously question the set of assumptions and beliefs we were born into His tone is largely warm and conversational, but at times passion blazes through, or tenderness melts in; in passages that disturb his strict sense of honour, such as those on war or the institutional abuse of children, he is acidic. Since I had never heard him speak in person, and dictation software cares not for punctuation, in order to “hear” him and take in his rhythms and syntax I watched a selection of clips from the RTÉ Archives and later interviews. Barbara had kept Justin’s notebooks together and safe through several relocations. At one point Justin wryly refers to himself as “a small opinionated man giving out unpopular opinions in public places”, while John Boorman’s welcome is warm: “What a delightful surprise that Justin speaks to us from beyond the grave, as it were, with all the old brio and wit and wisdom”. There were events or themes he would certainly have wished to cover, given time. Within a dozen pages he might explain the unseen challenges in bringing a pioneering farm school to the fledgling RTÉ or describe the unfolding of the Arms Crisis. Using dictation software, she converted the notebooks to digital files and shared them with Justin’s children, who were encouraging. If a word in Justin’s hand was indistinct, we would retrace our steps to the original copybook to decipher it. Justin Keating’s notebooks: in their raw form, they were a work obviously interrupted The manuscript was utterly fascinating. I said yes. In this, the idea was to strike a balance between providing accessibility for readers and honouring Justin’s firm belief that his own story was of less consequence than his conclusions, but that the path between the two was paramount. Nothing is Written in Stone: The Notebooks of Justin Keating, edited by Barbara Hussey and Anna Kealy, was published by the Lilliput Press last month The …

On Best Behaviour, Louisa Johnson takes a Tove-Lo turn in the right direction

He tweeted: “Harry Styles’s new music is gonna blow your socks off !!” Check in with Pop Corner next week for our review of the single. A source told the Daily Mail: “Leigh-Anne burnt her legs backstage on her steamer. Best Behaviour sounds like Blackout-era Britney with Louisa shrugging “I’ve got habits to let go/ that’s what I gotta do” before purring ‘give me your trust and I’ll try not to break it.” To be sung across the dancefloor, handbag on the floor, finger pointed at your quarry. Gone are the X Factor warble-ballads, and in is a girl who’s not into making promises. Hero of the week is poor old Leigh-Anne Little Mix, who had an accident with her hair tools before going on stage, meaning she singed her thighs and had to go on in bandages. Meanwhile, interest builds for the new Harry Styles track – titled Sign of the Times. She will be fine and is soldiering on.” Pop Corner, who has had many GHD mishaps, sends its love. TRACK OF THE WEEK Louisa Johnson – Best Behaviour We are here for Louisa’s Tove Lo direction. And someone who has already heard it and is willing to give a vague opinion is Union J’s Josh Cuthbert. Zero of the week is Elton John’s advice to Ed Sheeran. Go away.’ And he did. He just went to the Far East with his girlfriend, had a great time, put on a lot of weight, ate food and came back.” He went on: “One thing I said to him when he went, I said, ‘Don’t put on weight,’ because he’s very prone to put on weight like I am. Elton told Rolling Stone: “He was so omnipresent I said, ‘Ed, even I’m sick of you. I’m not one for going to the Far East and walking around with a backpack on; I just find that not my cup of tea.” NOW CLICK HERE to read Elton’s interview in full He just went away and had a great time.” “It was the most brilliant thing he could have done, because it refreshes your soul – not that I ever did it. And he came back heavy, but he lost it all for the album.

Nothing on Earth by Conor O’Callaghan: April’s Irish Times Book Club choice

The Herald Scotland declared: “Ominous and fearful… There is also the calm menace reminiscent of William Trevor. This adroit, uncompromising novel leaves questions unanswered and won’t easily release its hold.” Nothing on Earth has been heaped with praise: “I greatly admired Conor O’Callaghan’s Nothing on Earth, as fine as it is frightening,” wrote John Banville; “Strange, beautiful and quietly terrifying… The bleak ghost estate in all its unfinished bleakness, to the last pile of rubble and lone dusty weed, is as clear as the relentless daylight illuminating the mess. I could not put it down,” said Donal Ryan; “Nothing on Earth is beautiful, and haunting, and disturbing,” declared Dara Ó Briain; “A total curveball, Conor O’Callaghan’s book is extraordinary,” wrote Rick O’Shea. Nothing on Earth was released in paperback last month by Black Swan Ireland, priced £7.99. He also wrote the non-fiction book Red Mist: Roy Keane and the Football Civil War (2004). this striking debut is a psychological chiller that cleverly resonates with modern concerns.” Conor O’Callaghan is from Newry, Co Down, and now lives in Manchester. This one will stay with you like your shadow, as hard to shake off and as impossible to pin down”. However, it can be purchased for only €4.99 if bought with a copy of The Irish Times in any branch of Eason until April 14th Mystery drives the narrative. The month culminates with Eileen Battersby interviewing Conor O’Callaghan at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin’s Parnell Square on Wednesday, April 26th, at 7.30pm. It will be available as a podcast on April 30th. He lectures at Sheffield Hallam University and at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. “Conor O’Callaghan has without pretence of affection or straining for effect, told an original story, and brilliantly, in plain prose which does shimmer in shade and nuance. Described by Irish Times literary correspondent Eileen Batterdsby as “one of the most impressive pieces of Irish fiction writing since Neil Jordan’s The Dream of a Beast in 1983”, it is a mysterious tale told by an unreliable narrator of a family living on an Irish ghost estate. Little is spelt out, nothing is given away. “Many writers of virtuoso prose have nothing to say; equally novels based on important events are often written in dull, laboured prose,” writes Battersby. Over the next four weeks, we shall publish a very personal piece by the author himself on ghost estates, an essay …

Catherine Walker: Her face is not as familiar as that of Ms Ronan or Mr Farrell – but theatre watchers speak her name with awe

“It was incredible, but there was a period of unemployment after that,” she says. There are many, many worse things. I didn’t know what I was going to do.” By then was married. But I was just so focused on drama.” She appears to have lived a fecund life during the English years. The virus was unshakable. She gets many opportunities to exploit that with her role as a widowed mother in Liam Gavin’s fascinating horror film A Dark Song. So it was a short courtship. She enjoyed the theatre. “Film and TV came later. You feel a bit of loss for the characters.” Catherine has an expressive, flexible face, but it is the voice that really strikes you. Steve Oram plays an occultist who, while secluded in a remote mansion, talks her character through a necromancy ritual. And that was a weight. “I suppose I do see myself as a theatre actor,” she says with a hint of uneasiness. Her time at the RSC seems to have been deliciously exciting. I just jump off the mountain. “I wish I was one of those actors who can just switch it on, but I’m not,” she says. “Ah, I think I was. She won’t even let herself cry.” Walker is clearly somebody who invests a lot of emotion in every performance. Walker laughs as she recalls crying when first arriving at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Maybe that was the start of theatre actors not being quite trusted with film and TV. One really feeds the other. When we got back from that, I felt that I had to get back to the sea. But theatre watchers speak Catherine’s name with awe. Yet she’ll be shooting until November “Well, yes. “I was terrified. An early spell at the Royal Shakespeare Company offered invaluable grounding. Phew! I carried that with me. It’s grief that is solidified. “My way into the character was staying with the grief. With film or TV, when it’s on afterwards, you’re not connected to it. Two years ago she played Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Gate. I coasted my way through school knowing that’s what I wanted to do and I regret that now. But we were all being packed away then. You are on your own. She has triumphed as Phaedra, Miss Julie, Hedda Gabler and Cordelia. Raised in Coolock, she had knocked up …

Aimee Mann: Pop music is empires of people selling perfume

“When they listen to your music, their first comments and concerns are whether the music will sell, how it will sell, and how they can get the artist to do what they think will sell. She admits she finds it much more interesting to write about people “who aren’t functioning perfectly”, and her key creative trait of describing such states is more often than not balanced between keen observation and full disclosure. It’s all very meat and potatoes, and of not much interest to me.” When people have a problem with depression or anxiety, their instinct is to keep it to themselves, because there’s a fear that they may be judged. Definitively, that’s my goal.” Mental Illness is now on release through Super Ego Records  Aimee Mann on pop music songwriting-by-committee: “They give songwriting credits to so many people in a way that I never would. What it’s all about for me is having the ability, the freedom to do exactly – and I really do mean exactly – what I want. From then to now she has delivered seven albums of original material that have been praised to the hilt while – her early 2000s Oscar/Golden Globe/Grammy-nominated song Save Me notwithstanding – still stopping short of making her a mainstream figure. Obviously, I’m not writing Beyoncé music – which is something that can easily be quantified as commercial – so if you’re out of that game, then you can do whatever you want. I’m happy to have that, to sell enough records, to play to enough people, to be able to keep doing it. There is craft, but not the way I like. Who is doing the feeling? It’s interesting now – music is either very successful or very idiosyncratic, and there doesn’t seem as if there’s a middle ground. One of the problems of being on a label like that – back then, anyway – was that our respective goals were not equivalent.” Major record company aims are, says Mann, to push products through the filter of what they believe will sell records. There’s also a layer of negative thinking to how you feel people might evaluate you; if you’ll be ostracised, or if something else is handed to you that you won’t be able to cope with.” Signature themes Emotional disconnections, distractions and dysfunctions are Mann’s signature themes. “It means if you find an audience, then they …

Liam Neeson to play Philip Marlowe. ‘It’s about bloody time’

Every actor who has played Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan – Ben Affleck, Harrison Ford, Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin – has wrestled effectively with the agent’s inner nothingness. It seems as if Liam Neeson is about to play Philip Marlowe. Banville’s novel is set in the early 1950s when, if Chandler is to be trusted, Marlowe was approaching his middle 40s. It offers no great challenge to accurately represent an empty cipher on screen. John Le Carré said much the same about Alec Guinness’s portrayal of George Smiley (who was supposed to look like Arthur Lowe). ‘I’m very proud of it’ Six of the best films to see at the cinema this weekend Ah, never mind that. One of the main criticisms of Winner’s The Big Sleep hung around the lead’s superannuation. Trust Mr Winner to kill off a much-loved icon. We think of Chandler’s private detective as one of cinema’s essential protagonists. He is also probably a little less well read. But I make the observation anyway. Marlowe is a deceptively nuanced creature. The sense of an inner Englishman that Dulwich lent to Chandler’s creation is missing from all those performances. But it has been nearly 40 years since he appeared in a major motion picture. But Marlowe’s character remains reasonably consistent throughout the books. Bogart’s performance in The Big Sleep does not grind against those gears. Yet none of those films really featured the character we meet in the books. Professors in Chandler Studies will, however, remain cautious about seeing an accurate translation of the literary character. He is never so slovenly and disorganised as Elliot Gould in The Long Goodbye. Robert Mitchum got away with the role in Dick Richards’s fine Farewell My Lovely three years earlier, but, by 1978, then 60, the star was looking a bit scuffed around the edges. Age is just a number – Doris Day celebrates 95th birthday two years early Being Miranda in Sex and the City? Ian Fleming admitted that, after reluctantly accepting Sean Connery as James Bond (who was supposed to look like Hoagy Carmichael), his perception of his own character began to change. Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973) is one of the great Los Angeles odysseys. “It’s hard to tell who has the more of a lion’s heart and soul, Philip Marlowe or Liam Neeson,” Monahan said. Educated at Dulwich College in South London, Chandler was always proud …

Sócrates: the last great political footballer

It may be easy to criticise modern footballers for keeping quiet, especially in Brazil, where the vast majority start off poor and uneducated. The message on that first day was for his hosts, tens of thousands of whom had died or were made homeless in an earthquake nine months before. 1986 World Cup. Everything worked out today, thank God.” Their careers, you could assume, are not really theirs; responsibility is passed on to a higher power. “No Violence,” read another. Andrew Downie is the Scottish author of Doctor Socrates: Footballer, Philosopher, Legend which was published last month by Simon and Schuster and is reviewed by Ken Early in The Irish Times this Saturday. What it didn’t do was inspire subsequent generations to get involved. God willing, I’ll be called up for the national side. It took him some time but he asked questions. “Yes to Love, No to Terror,” read one, a response to the recent US bombing of Libya. But to the contrary, footballers live in ghettos. He hugged his team mates and did a lap of honour but it wasn’t long before he was at the side of the pitch. By openly questioning the dictatorship he endangered not just his commercial deals but his personal safety. Two Brazilians leading their country on the world stage in front of capacity crowds. A trained physician – for six years he studied orthopedics and gynecology by day and ran laps by night – he was well equipped to deal with the big questions. The differences in the messages and messengers are indicative not just of Sócrates’ unique greatness but of how footballers have become more submissive and less brave. And there, as they say, the similarities end. Under his captaincy, the Corinthians players – and the kit man, trainer, physio and everyone else involved with the team – voted on everything from how long to train to whether or not to the team coach should stop for a toilet break. He, too, had a message to convey and after seeing a little girl in a tiara while flicking through Mexican TV channels, he painted slogans on a white sock, tied it around his head, and decided this was his medium. And once he worked it out, he became one of the regime’s biggest critics. Even those at smaller clubs are so mollycoddled they know little about the real world beyond the …

Age is just a number – Doris Day celebrates 95th birthday two years early

– (PA, agencies) She remained a pop star as well, with hits including Whatever Will Be Will Be (Qué Sera) and Secret Love. Movie star Doris Day turns 95 on Monday – which has come as a bit of a birthday surprise to the Hollywood star as she had believed she was about to turn 93. However, a copy of Day’s birth certificate obtained from Ohio’s Office of Vital Statistics by Associated Press shows that Doris Mary Kappelhoff (the star’s original name) was born on April 3rd, 1922. “We don’t know if that’s correct, but if so it could’ve simply stuck for all these years.” He said Day and actress and friend Betty White, who was born in January 1922, had long joked about White being two years older. Day, who started out as a big-band singer, made her film debut in 1948 with Romance on the High Seas, before starring in a string of smash-hit 1950s and 1960s romantic comedies. ‘It’s about bloody time’ Being Miranda in Sex and the City? Pillow Talk earned her an Oscar nomination and she won critical acclaim for dramatic turns in Midnight Lace and Love Me or Leave Me, but Oscar gold, including the lifetime achievement award, has eluded her. “I’ve always said that age is just a number and I have never paid much attention to birthdays, but it’s great to finally know how old I really am!” Day said in a statement. Her spokesman Charley Cullen Walters said: “There has long been speculation and rumours about Doris’s age and we get this question a lot, looks like we finally have the answer. The actress and singer known for films including Calamity Jane, Pillow Talk and Move Over Darling had believed she was born in 1924. ‘I’m very proud of it’ Six of the best films to see at the cinema this weekend “The story I have heard the most is that at one point Doris was up for a role when quite young and her age may have been miswritten on the audition form. Liam Neeson to play Philip Marlowe. “Now we know that they are actually just a couple months apart, and turns out it’s an even bigger exciting landmark than we thought,” Walters said.

First draft of ‘The Boy in Striped Pyjamas’ took me two days

I’m not quite sure what to do with days off. I like to have an author on the go and slowly work my way through their entire body of work. I know that if I walk away from it during this time, the novel, like an unsupervised souffle, will simply collapse. I worked in Waterstone’s in Dublin and would rise every morning at about 5am in order to write before going to work. When I wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, the idea came to me on a Tuesday evening, I began writing on Wednesday morning and continued for 60 hours with only short breaks, not sleeping on Wednesday or Thursday nights and finishing the first draft by Friday lunchtime. Me, I love writing. I’m a voracious reader and keep a list of all the books that I’ve read on my website. Some writers want feedback earlier, but I prefer to wait before letting a reader in. My only break from writing comes when I finish the first draft and I take about a month off then as I can’t think straight any more. And very bitter. It’s such an offensive and arrogant way of approaching the craft. I don’t like to plot a novel out too deeply in advance, preferring to start with a basic idea, a character or a theme and let the story guide me. Quite admirable, really. First drafts come quite quickly to me. I feel very fortunate to be able to spend my life with books. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne is published by Doubleday I’ve been reading about him too and he seems like he was a cantankerous old sod, but I imagine it took some guts to publish that book and that he lost a few friends on account of it. He’s surprisingly funny. And, as strange as this might sound, Adolf Hitler, who is not a character in the book but looms over it, killed himself on 30 April 1945. Believe it or not, the world will not grind to a halt if you decide to do something else with your life. When I was an aspiring writer in my mid-20s, I had something shocking: a real job. Coincidentally, the film adaptation started shooting on the exact same date three years later. Mostly fiction, but after that I’m indiscriminate. I was fortunate enough to study under Malcolm Bradbury during …

‘Pop music is empires of people selling clothes or perfume’

Such belief, she argues, isn’t always genuine. In truth, being “normal” is a balancing act, isn’t it? It’s all very meat and potatoes, and of not much interest to me.” People are just coming up with a topic that might sell, or what approach might sell. No middle ground “It’s so easy for an A&R person to tell you they don’t hear a hit song – they were always after the ‘single’, and, you know, what’s a single these days, anyway? All of which is very discouraging, especially when that’s the only feedback you get about your music. Not that she cares – her latest album Mental Illness is her first since 2012’s Charmer, and is arguably her best work in more than 15 years. The only people commenting on it are record company employees, which means the feedback is, more or less, always going to be negative. Engagement with what ails you is crucial, she believes. It depends where your mess is, and whether that mess is compatible with the mess of other people.” Has there ever been a time when she was disconnected? I feel more articulate when I’m writing a song, because the music allows me to think in ways that I can’t really do when I’m not writing.” Mann first came to notice with her 1980s rock band Til Tuesday but she really snagged attention from 1993 onwards with the release of her debut solo album, Whatever. There is attention to detail, but not the way that I like. Commercial pop music is so tied up in what I call the ‘empires’ where, along with the music, people are also selling clothing lines or perfumes. One of the problems of being on a label like that – back then, anyway – was that our respective goals were not equivalent.” Major record company aims are, says Mann, to push products through the filter of what they believe will sell records. “Oh, yes, everyone’s a mess. When people have a problem with depression or anxiety, their instinct is to keep it to themselves, because there’s a fear that they may be judged. “I love filtering ideas, problems and puzzles through the medium of songwriting. “I’ve definitely had times where I had writers’ block, and it was really hard to get things out. Long regarded as a songwriter’s songwriter, Aimee Mann takes such admiration in her stride. From then …

Cnuasach nua filíochta ar aistear na himirce

Is áiteanna uaigneacha iad ina gcónaíonn lucht na hÉireann, iad i bhfad as baile, iad ag iarraidh slí bheatha a bhaint amach agus cumha dá réir sin orthu, mothúcháin a mhíníonn an file sa dán, Geimhreadh (Huddersfield): “cad tá le rá? Beidh cuimhne ag léitheoirí ar an ainm nó bhí mórán alt Gaeilge ag Ó hAodha ar an leathanach seo. Is í an imirce téama mór an leabhair seo, an imirce chun na Breataine ach go háirithe, agus mar a imríonn an imirce sin tionchar ar shaol cultúrtha agus creidimh na nÉireannach a imíonn as a dtír dhúchais: “Téama na cuimhne agus an tosta á iniúchadh ar shlí atá thar a bheith íogair agus suaithinseach.” Tá Hull, Leeds, Peterborough, Coventry agus Huddersfield luaite sna dánta. Leabhar na nAistear (Coiscéim, €8) is ainm do chnuasach nua filíochta le Mícheál Ó hAodha. tá ina gheimhreadh an ithir faoi shneachta aon ní amháin an domhan agus an spéir glé iad na guthanna a thagann ón mbóthar thíos sleamhnaíonn an domhan trí m’fhuinneog.” Maireann an fhilíocht in ainneoin na n-ainneoin: “b’in a dúirt sí mura ndéanann tú dán fúthu déanfaidh tú dearmad orthu” Tá mórán leabhar foilsithe aige roimhe seo fosta, ina measc leabhair acadúla a bhaineann leis an lucht siúil agus cnuasaigh eile filíochta.

Ar do rothar!

Níl sin deacair. Ach tá na ceisteanna díreach go maith. Dá réir sin, fuair siad buidéal maith de rud éigin fliuch, chuir an teilifíseán ar siúl, d’fhéach ar na capaill ag capallaíocht, dhein bladar éigin cairdiúil le chéile ar feadh an ama, agus ansin nuair a bhí tuirse agus trí chéile ar an aos polaitíochta, tháinig siad amach ag fógairt an lae nua. Is í an bhó ar an mbóthar ná gur seirbhís phoiblí is ea an taisteal. Sna cainteanna a dhéanfar luath ná mall is é an chéad mhír ar an gclár ná: ‘Caitear airgead leis!’ Bhí aontaithe acu ar an uile phonc tábhachtach tar éis deich neomat, nó mar sin. Arsene Woster a chur i leataoibh, fiosrú um bhreosla, agus rud éigin faoi theangacha. Bhí an córas taistil phoiblí ag gluaiseacht leis go seoigh go dtí gur tugadh cead do na banditti príobháideacha gadaíocht oifigiúil a dhéanamh ar an bhfeoil ramhar. B’fhéidir nach bhfuil ann ach seanchas agus béaloideas ach níor bhris srón duine a bhéal riamh. Tá an t-ábhar feidhmeannais (a bhfuiltear ag feitheamh leis) sa chúinne thoir thuaidh den tír ag caint is ag comhrá is ag cabaireacht is ag coinbhearsáid is ag clabaireacht is ag cantain is ag cur amach le tamall maidir leis na coinníollacha is gá a bheith ann chun dul ar ais i mbun oibre. Is mó is ionadh liom nach mar sin a réitítear aighnistí an lae inniu. Deirtear gur sacadh isteach i seomra iad i dteannta a chéile chun an bheart a dhéanamh. Cuireann sé mearbhall orm cad ina thaobh a dtógann sé seachtainí fada, nó míonna fada féin, achrainn tionsclaíochta nó polaitíochta a réiteach. Ba ghá a thabhairt le fios go raibh siad ag argóint agus ag áiteamh agus ag tabhairt na gcor ar feadh an lae. Cad air a mbíonn siad ag caint ó mhoiche na maidne go dul siar na gréine thíos? Sin uile. Níl na banditti príobháideacha chun bus a chur go rialta idir Béal na Mara Thiar agus Both na Sceiche Bige. Ní hé nach bhfuil socruithe níos casta ná sin le déanamh, go háirithe nuair atá an dá pháirtí ar bís agus ar scrobaig an gnó a chur i gcrích. Agus iad ar tí an áit a fhágaint ar an toirt, na páipéir aontaithe a luascadh san aer, agus ‘Eureka’ (nó pé focal a bhí i nDún Laoiris agus in Loch Garmainis acu san …

Ar scoil arís le Jimín Mháire Thaidhg

Mar sin féin, seoid atá ann. “Mar thoradh air sin, fearacht roinnt mhaith cainteoirí Gaeilge eile de mo ghlúin féin, níor chuala mise trácht ar Jimín nuair a bhí mé ag fás aníos. “Bheartaigh mise filleadh ar an mbuntéacs agus dhá eagrán nua de Jimín a fhoilsiú: eagrán amháin i nGaeilge na Mumhan a bheadh dílis don chanúint a bhain leis an scéal ag tús a ré; agus eagrán eile sa Ghaeilge chaighdeánach. Thall sa Bhreatain atá sí faoi láthair agus í i mbun taighde ach ní stadann an obair i ngort na Gaeilge in Éirinn in am ar bith. Arú, an dua a chaith na glúnta de pháistí Éireannacha leis an jotter agus iad ag iomrascáil leis an pheann luaidhe le focail dheasa néata a chur ar pháipéar. Seans go raibh aithne agat ar Jimín. Ní gan ábhar maith a mholann Nic Congáil saothar Whitson. Seans gur chuala tú iomrá air lá den tsaol agus go bhfuil dearmad déanta agat air le fada. Ach seo ar ais é, an gasúr beag iomlatach, agus a scéal i gcló faoi dhó in eagrán caighdeánach neamhghiorraithe agus eagrán canúnach neamhghiorraithe mar Jimín Mháire Thaidhg (An tSnáthaid Mhór). Rud suntasach eile ar fiú a lua gurb annamh a fhoilsíonn foilsitheoir ar bith dhá leagan den aon leabhar amháin. Nuair a foilsíodh Jimín den chéad uair “mhol criticeoirí go hard é mar an chéad leabhar Gaeilge a scríobhadh ó pheirspictíocht an pháiste – trí ghlór mí-ómósach Jimín Mháire Thaidhg, Ciarraíoch 13 bliain d’aois. Ní raibh eagla ar an tSeabhac cluaisín a thabhairt do lucht cumhachta, a deir sí: “Cuirtear daoine údarásacha i láthair mar dhaoine lochtacha, tiarnúla, nach ndéanann aon mhachnamh ar a ngníomhaíochtaí; ní thagann an Eaglais Chaitliceach slán ón gcáineadh seo ach an oiread. “Ar an gcaoi sin, d’fhéadfadh an léitheoir féin cinneadh a dhéanamh maidir leis an eagrán ba rogha leis nó léi.” Tá gradam ar leith tuillte ag príomhcharachatar an leabhair, Jimín féin, i litríocht na Gaeilge, a deir sí. “Má scríobh Ó Siochfhradha an leabhar Gaeilge ba mhó ráchairt do pháistí sa 20ú haois, is cinnte go bhfuil saothar ealaíne cruthaithe ag an maisitheoir a mheallfaidh spéis agus fiosracht nua in Jimín Mháire Thaidhg sa 21ú haois.” Cuirtear an leabhar i láthair an léitheora mar théacsleabhar scoile agus é scríofa i bpeannaireacht. Míníonn Nic Congáil gurbh “eagarthóir é an Seabhac ar an tréimhseachán An Lóchrann a bhí lonnaithe i …

Aimee Man: Pop music is empires of people selling clothes or perfume

Commercial pop music is so tied up in what I call the ‘empires’ where, along with the music, people are also selling clothing lines or perfumes. “Precisely. All of which is very discouraging, especially when that’s the only feedback you get about your music. Songwriting, she says, very quickly turned into the way she chose to speak. The only people commenting on it are record company employees, which means the feedback is, more or less, always going to be negative. No middle ground “It’s so easy for an A&R person to tell you they don’t hear a hit song – they were always after the ‘single’, and, you know, what’s a single these days, anyway? It’s interesting now – music is either very successful or very idiosyncratic, and there doesn’t seem as if there’s a middle ground. “I’ve definitely had times where I had writers’ block, and it was really hard to get things out. The time when I was on Geffen Records in the early-mid 1990s was when I felt like that. Engagement with what ails you is crucial, she believes. “Oh, yes, everyone’s a mess. It depends where your mess is, and whether that mess is compatible with the mess of other people.” Has there ever been a time when she was disconnected? She admits she finds it much more interesting to write about people “who aren’t functioning perfectly”, and her key creative trait of describing such states is more often than not balanced between keen observation and full disclosure. While she emphasises that the album title shouldn’t be taken as a pointer for anything remotely self-confessional, she says many walk a line of varying width in relation to mental health. Such belief, she argues, isn’t always genuine. From then to now she has delivered seven albums of original material that have been praised to the hilt while – her early 2000s Oscar/Golden Globe/Grammy-nominated song Save Me notwithstanding – still stopping short of making her a mainstream figure. Where are the rhymes, images, turns of phrases, metaphors? What it’s all about for me is having the ability, the freedom to do exactly – and I really do mean exactly – what I want. Definitively, that’s my goal.” Mental Illness is now on release through Super Ego Records  Aimee Mann on pop music songwriting-by-committee: “They give songwriting credits to so many people in a way that I never would. …