Words on Words

It goes without saying that Celts are world-renowned wordsmiths ~ a quick glance at literary history uncovers an enviable list of superb scribery; Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Maeve Binchy, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin and Dylan Thomas are just a few of the giants upon whose shoulders modern writers now stand. From emerging to established authors, the staff at Celtic Life International brings you up to speed on contemporary Celtic copy.

A Fierce Local: Memoirs of my Love Affair with Ireland
By Harvey Gould
iUniverse /312 pp/$22.95

Bursting with quirky anecdote and affectionate detail, A Fierce Local recounts the adventures in Ireland of Jewish-American Harvey Gould and his Irish-American wife, Karen. The book offers insights into the Irish character. Traits such as the national love of verbal sparring and the flexibility of local time-keeping are explored, as is the Irish love of horses, riding and hunting – passions Gould shares and which he pursues with energy, even after being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer. At times, Gould’s stories are over-long and he begins to resemble a relative who has returned from a trip with too many holiday snaps to share, but readers will likely overlook this as his enthusiasm is infectious.

A Greyhound of a Girl
By Roddy Doyle
Harry N. Abrams Publishing / 192 pp / $18.95

There is no question that Irish scribe Roddy Doyle inspires the imagination, both in his adult novels (The Commitments, Bull Fighting) and his work for young readers (Mad Weekend, Wilderness). His latest effort, A Greyhound of a Girl, meets in the Young Adult middle. Four generations of females (including a ghost from the past) come together in this sad and funny narrative that explores themes of family, love and loss. Doyle’s trademark wit is again well at play, spinning the small, daily tragedies into wry strands of comic relief. Full characterizations, fresh and funny dialogue and a fluid narrative arc bring the book to life for both established and emerging lovers of literature.

Hurling USA
By Denis O’ Brien
Amazon Digital Services /File size: 1585 KB (print: 309 pages) / $12.29

Bold, straight-talking, and written with the deftness and focus a hurler might bring to the job, Denis O’ Brien tells the story of U.S. hurling from 1800s Irish America to today. His coverage is comprehensive, well-illustrated, and a fast-paced, terrific read. As to the organizational shortcomings in promoting what is a truly exciting, world class sport, he pulls no punches. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) stateside has been insular and mysteriously retiring in reaching out to promote hurling to ethnically diverse, largely can-do America. The all-American Milwaukee Hurling Club, with a membership of 300 built up in a mere 17 years, is testament to other possibilities. American hurling must get out of the ghetto and go native.

By Anakana Schofield
Biblioasis / 225 pp / $19.95

This quaint and quirky debut from Irish-Canadian author Anakana Schofield is not for the faint of heart or mind. The story of an Irish mother/farm-wife who refuses to be outwitted by life is racy, eccentric, hilarious and, ultimately, brilliant. The protagonist, whom the author affectionately calls ‘Our Woman’, is a shining sun who is orbited by a  bold and bizarre supporting cast. The resulting chemistry and dialogue defy the laws of linguistic gravity, as does the minimalist writing style, which does take some getting used to. This is a worthy and welcome work of wonder, and the reader closes the book hoping there’s more to come from this young and gifted writer.