Tag Archives: Ireland

Sally Rooney, Modern Writer for a Modern Ireland

Image result for normal people book coverIreland’s writer-to-overall population ratio has always been impressive. The little isle known for shamrocks and Guinness has been home to some of the most influential writers of the past couple of centuries. In poetry, there was William Butler Yeats. In drama, Samuel Beckett confused generations of English students with Waiting for Godot. Edna O’Brien brought women’s emotional and sexual politics to the fore. Bram Stoker introduced the world to Dracula! And of course there’s one of my all time favourites: the inimitable, infinitely quotable Oscar Wilde. 

Twenty-first century Irish writers have some big shoes to fill, and so far they’ve been easily meeting the challenge. One of the most buzzworthy books this season is Normal People by Sally Rooney, which has catapulted the 28-year-old writer into the general literary consciousness. Less intensely millennial than her previous work Conversations with Friends (but only by a little), Normal People is the type of book you burn through in one sitting—a book The Guardian called “a future classic”.  Rooney’s writing is difficult to explain; there’s nothing flashy or unearned in her prose, and yet with a few simple, well-constructed sentences she can take down everything from author readings (please see: “It was culture as class performance, literature fetishised for its ability to take educated people on false emotional journeys, so that they might afterwards feel superior to the uneducated people whose emotional journeys they liked to read about.”) to capitalism. Maybe this quality is what makes The Atlantic compare her (in a weirdly spot-on way) to Jane Austen; she is simultaneously participating in and sending up the conventions she is clearly skeptical of. In Austen’s case, it was the role of women, love, and class under the rigid rules of Regency society. In Rooney’s case, it’s the existence of art, love, and class under capitalism. So even though reading Rooney is very much like listening to your cool 20-something artsy friend talk about her life, her work feels like a natural progression of radical writers before her.  

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Chasing River

Chasing River

Chasing River is a book I can see myself reading over and over again. In fact, I just finished reading it for the second time. It is the third installment in K.A Tucker’s “Burying Water” series, and I am absolutely obsessed with it. I don’t know if it’s the romance, or the danger, or the traveling, or the totally hot Irish guy, but this one had me hooked as soon as I started it. I love the fact that the story is told from multiple points of view, so that you are able to gain insight into both Amber AND River as characters-separately, and together. I love that the story takes place in Ireland, as it is one destination I would really like to visit. I found myself hanging on to every detail of every landmark or tourist attraction being described, and pictured seeing it for myself one day. I also really love the characters in this book. Each one had his/her place in the book, and it made sense for them to be there. One of the secondary characters (Ivy), is actually cast as the main character in the Fourth Installment “Surviving Ice.” All in all, I love it!! If you’re looking for a series with  a storyline that’s not just romance based, give this one a shot. “Burying Water” is the first, and I promise it won’t disappoint. And once you get there, let me know how you feel about “Chasing River.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.