Inspired by the Emerald Isle

Article by staff

In which Keaton Patterson (Buyer) and Mark Haber (Store Manager) discuss books—what they’ve already read, what they’re currently reading, and what they’re excited about reading in the future.

Keaton: With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time for us to talk about the wonderful literary tradition of the Green Isle, Ireland. Over the past couple years, one of my favorite contemporary authors working today is from the great city of Limerick, Ireland: Donal Ryan. THE SPINNING HEART is a tremendous debut, and THE THING ABOUT DECEMBER, which was released the same year, is also just another stunning novel. You know, it's weird for such a small country to produce such a wide and rich literary tradition—in all different genres, even. I mean William Butler Yeats is one of my all-time favorite poets.

Mark: I always forget Oscar Wilde was Irish.

Keaton: That he was! The Purple Man himself.

Mark: Prince?

Keaton: [laughs] Have there been any Irish authors or Irish books that you've been particularly into?

Mark: There’s a contemporary Irish writer I like a lot. He wrote a book of short stories and then he wrote a novel that just came out, BEATLEBONE.

Beatlebone Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780385540292
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Doubleday Books - November 17th, 2015

Keaton: Kevin Barry.

Mark: Yes! Kevin Barry's fantastic. He's really funny and really—he's got that really weird grasp on language. He can make it bend and do stuff.

Keaton: Comedy's hard! It's one thing to be able to write a good, gut-wrenching, heartstring-pulling work of drama, but when you can make people laugh, that means you've got some special talent. He's a strange writer, too. Very funny, but always kinda goes into those underground areas—kinda flirts with crime, even. CITY OF BOHANE [another Barry novel] was one of the first books I read when I worked here, actually, and I remember, it was funny and odd, and it had this certain voice. The one thing that I really thinks comes through with Irish authors, whether you're talking about Joyce or Donal Ryan, Kevin Barry or Edna O'Brien, or Eimear McBride, who made a big splash last year with her debut from Coffee House Press, A GIRL IS A HALF-FORMED THING, is that the narrative voice that Irish authors come up with is very, very powerful.

So, moving away from Ireland, what have you read recently, that you've really enjoyed?


Against Nature: The Notebooks Cover Image
By Tomas Espedal, James Anderson (Translator)
$25.00
ISBN: 9780857422354
Availability: Backordered
Published: Seagull Books - May 15th, 2015

Mark: I read a book called AGAINST NATURE by Thomas Espedal (Coming May 15, 2016), and it was fantastic. It was really beautiful. It's kind of a mix of memoir and fiction, and it reflects his life—you don't know what’s real and what’s not. And he's friends with [Karl Ove] Knausgaard, another Norwegian writer—they're kind of contemporaries. There's a twenty-or-so-page passage where the girl [Espedal is] with basically leaves him. And he's just wandering around this empty house, and I've never seen a better description of just heartbreak. I mean, you're just like, Wow, this guy has just hit the bottom. Really, really beautiful, though—really, really good stuff. So I'm interested in reading more of his work from Seagull Books. They have other books of his that I've ordered for myself and for the store that I'm looking forward to reading.

Keaton: Yeah, I have to say that Seagull's been putting out some stellar stuff, especially recently. Beautiful hardcover editions.

Mark: Yeah, beautiful—they're like works of art. How about you? What have you read lately that's blown you away or that you've enjoyed?

Keaton: Well, anybody that's walked into the store recently is probably tired of hearing me talk about A COLLAPSE OF HORSES, a new short story collection by Brian Evenson. Just top-notch, stellar, psychological horror. I mean, fans of Edgar Allen Poe, fans of Shirley Jackson, Twilight Zone, those kind of things where the horror is really in the mind more than the creepy, outdoorsy, in the shadows kinda stuff—fans of that kind of stuff will really just love it. Evenson is just stellar. For anybody who grew up reading scary stories, this is like that for adults. It's very mind-bending, unnerving, lovely, scary stuff. I've been a big fan of it.


Golden Years: An Iranian Punk Beat Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780571321063
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Faber & Faber Social - March 15th, 2016

Also, this novel GOLDEN YEARS that I read recently, by Ali Eskandarian, who was tragically murdered back in 2013. It's an Iranian-American immigrant story, but in the guise of a beat road novel. Just lots of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, but also soul searching. It's the only novel he wrote before he was killed. He seemed a very promising writer.

So, what are you looking forward to that's coming out in the next few months?

Mark: Well, I think the last time we did this, last month, I was excited about the Javier Marías book THUS BAD BEGINS. I have it now, and I'm going on a short vacation to Florida, so I'm going to probably try and read that, if I can. It comes out in November, and it should be good—a big, promising novel by one of my favorites.

Keaton: Well, let's see. I just finished a couple books, and I'm in-between right now. I'm not exactly sure where I'm gonna go next. I'm very intrigued by the new Alejandro Jodorowsky book that's coming out, ALBINA AND THE DOG-MEN. That's coming out from Restless Books—a nice, short novel that’s being put forth as this Western meets werewolf story, plus surreal trippy Mexican psycho-babble magic. I'm looking forward to it. I'm kind of at a loss for what to read next because there's so many choices. Bookseller problems.


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