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Erin Go Bookshelf: Irish Prose for St. Patrick’s Day

March 16, 2012

While I was making my list of Irish Poetry, I kept thinking of Irish fiction and nonfiction I also love, so that gets a list of its own.

Nonfiction:

Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks. Exactly what it sounds like. And exactly as funny as you’d expect. A guy hitchhikes around Ireland. With a fridge.

McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey of Discovery In Ireland by Pete McCarthy is a fun read in a similar vein, minus the fridge. Pete McCarthy travels around Ireland, in search of heritage and a sense of culture, and a good pint in a bar where he may or may not have some ancestral connection.

McCarthy’s Bar was fun, but its sequel, The Road to McCarthy : Around the World in Search of Ireland was fascinating! In it, McCarthy traveled all over the world, seeing different ways the cultural identity of an Irish pub was appropriated, reconstructed and integrated into different countries. It was like fun, slightly tipsy anthropology. Yes, I love it.

Green Suede Shoes– Larry Kirwan. If you’ve heard a few of Black 47’s many autobiographical songs, you know some of the key events in Larry Kirwan’s memoir of growing up and learning to love and play rock and roll. This is still a solid rock and roll read, though Kirwan does get pretty fond of adding literary trills and adjectives.

Fiction:

Anything by Roddy Doyle will be an excellent primer in the sounds of Dublin neighborhoods. Though, reading The Snapper or The Commitments for the first time did take a few puzzled moments, sounding out the conversations.

Patrick Taylor’s Irish doctor series about the adventures of Barry Laverty and Fingal O’Reilly practicing medicine in 1960’s Ballybucklebo is a wonderful read. Or listen. John Keating has a wonderful voice, and of course, the requisite accent.

I can’t decide whether I like Maeve Binchy’s novels. I’ve read a couple and… eh. Small Irish town full of eccentrics, which does make me happy, but… she gets mawkish!

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