Foster: Claire Keegan’s Art of the Unsaid

It is no small feat to make silence an essential part of the story, to make it a character of sorts, or a part of the landscape itself. To let the unsaid speak volumes and tear at our hearts. Other mediums, of course, have baked in access to the power of silence: film, paintings, and photography, especially. Music can also make use of sonic absence to heighten the power of each note, each break in time, and give us more space to process the evolution of emotions. But in the field of letters, mastering silence — and her noble cousin Brevity — requires extraordinary skill.…

Fintan O’Toole on Flann O’Brien

An excerpt from his fine article on the man, the myth, the legend . . .

The banning of almost every serious Irish contemporary novel also created the strange literary culture in which O’Brien revelled, one in which officially approved reading was narrowed to theological reflections, Gaelic sagas and peasant narratives while the thirst for contemporary stories was slaked by imported cowboy stories and cheap crime thrillers.

O’Brien’s main novels draw much of their humour from the absurd conjunctions implicit in this unlikely mix. At Swim sets heroic and folkloric figures (Finn MacCool, Sweeny, The Good Fairy, The Pooka MacPhellimey) literally alongside the cowboys Slug and Shorty.

Live, From New York!

Well, not quite. But we do have an expressive report from Robert Mueller regarding his evening on the town and a concert performance of New York musicians/composers. As George Spencer mentions in the comments, Robert seems to sync his prose meter (quite naturally) with the music he heard — without stretching the metaphor.

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 On a different note: Brian O’Nolan, otherwise known as Flann O’Brien, was born a century ago as of October 5th of this year. The author of The Third Policeman and At Swim-Two-Birds is one of my all-time favorites, and deserving of quite a big ruckus on his centennial.…

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