Archive for August, 2010

Voltaire and Bees

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Voltaire’s Candide intrigued the book club not least by the realisation of two apparent endings. One with ‘cultivate your garden’ and another where he said ‘Sod it. I’m bored. I’m off to Lisdoonvarna’ – or something like that. As evening turned closer to dawn and one member was in danger of missing a flight, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (not a prescribed text) evoked lots of chatter of matters profound, as did contemplation of the miners in Chile. As for the Secret Life of Bees, two members (one absent) hated it. War was averted – just about – as a clash of Titans threatened to disturb the cosmos given the diametrically opposed appraisals of the said buzzing book.

Irish PEN

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

I was asked to become chair of Irish PEN, the writers’ association affiliated to international PEN. Humbled and honoured by this trust, I have accepted the voluntary role depending, as I must, on the support of many.

Stepping up to the plate is a phrase that means more and more to me. I hope that I do a good enough job.

Also during the past week I completed the first full draft of my new book. It is gestating now in the bottom of a filing cabinet for a week before I take it out again to do the second complete draft. This is a book that has been in the making for twenty years. Finally proceeding towards its completion is another moment of ‘stepping up to the plate’.