Category Archives: Books

‘Normal people’ by Sally Rooney and Lenny Abrahamson

Aspen label

Last October I read the book ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney over a period of two months. You might wonder why a book of 266 pages would take so long. It’s well written and quite easy to read after all. It tells the simple tale of a heterosexual couple who start a relationship in secondary school in the west of Ireland, before continuing an on-again, off-again friendship and relationship over their university days in Dublin. Continue reading ‘Normal people’ by Sally Rooney and Lenny Abrahamson

A book: ‘The Madonna of Bolton’ by Matt Cain


‘The Madonna of Bolton’ is the third novel by Matt Cain. Having been rejected thirty times by publishers – apparently because the main protagonist of the book Charlie Matthews is gay – it was finally published through a crowdfunding campaign which reached its target within a week. Continue reading A book: ‘The Madonna of Bolton’ by Matt Cain

Bookworm: ‘The Sparsholt Affair’ by Alan Hollinghurst



‘The Sparsholt Affair’ by Alan Hollinghurst is his first book since 2011’s ‘The Stranger’s Child’ and his sixth overall. Having won the Man Booker Prize for his masterpiece ‘The Line of Beauty ‘ in 2005 the expectations every time he releases a book are high. His books are about the lives of gay men, but such is the beauty and power of his writing, they transcend that limiting categorization, and get placed in the General Fiction section of the bookshop. Continue reading Bookworm: ‘The Sparsholt Affair’ by Alan Hollinghurst

Theatrical: ‘The Snapper’ at the Gate


Currently in preview at the Gate Theatre is the stage adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s book ‘The Snapper’. The official opening is on Wednesday 20th June. Theatrical etiquette rules that reviewers don’t review plays until opening night. Preview shows are intended to allow the director and the cast to iron out any last minute issues with the play. I am going to ignore that rule – for the simple reason that I paid full whack for my preview ticket (no freebies for regular audience members). As the show I saw, was the fourth preview performance, if they are not about 99% stage ready by this point then they never will be. Continue reading Theatrical: ‘The Snapper’ at the Gate

Bookworm: ‘After the funeral’ by Agatha Christie

At the age of twelve, I read ‘Cat among the pigeons’ by Agatha Christie. It was the first novel of hers that I’d read. It introduced me to the character of Hercule Poirot – the portly, eggheaded Belgian detective – whose favourite tipple is sirop de cassis – who travels the world, solving murders committed by the rich and infamous. Continue reading Bookworm: ‘After the funeral’ by Agatha Christie

Bookworm: ‘World without end’ by Ken Follett

The weekend passed in a blur. I was reading a very long book.

‘World without end’ by Ken Follett weighed in at a mighty 1,237 pages. I started this about four weeks ago with a slight feeling of dread. Books of this length can be dangerous.

As I am the type of person who will nearly always finish a book once I have started it, tomes like these are threatening. What if it is absolute gash, yet I don’t find this out until three hundred pages in? That’s a long and lonely nine hundred pages left to go. Continue reading Bookworm: ‘World without end’ by Ken Follett

Bookworm: ‘Days without end’ by Sebastian Barry

‘Days without end’ by Sebastian Barry is his latest tale in a series of books about the McNulty family of Sligo. Set over various centuries on different continents these books examine various people in different generations of one family, and how they fare in the world. ‘The Temporary Gentleman’ was about Jack McNulty – working for the UN in Ghana in 1957, as he remembers his ruinous marriage to his fellow alcoholic Mai Kirwan (you can read my take on that book HERE… ) Continue reading Bookworm: ‘Days without end’ by Sebastian Barry

Bloomsday: James Joyce Day, June 16th

I have a gig on Friday with a band. The fact that I am unable to play a musical instrument, and possess a singing voice that sounds like a bag of cats in a blender (a metaphorical blender – I love cats and would never knowingly cause a moment of distress to one of those classy creatures) is entirely irrelevant. My services were requested, so I graciously accepted. I have been asked to perform to honour the works of Mr. James Joyce. Continue reading Bloomsday: James Joyce Day, June 16th