Happy St. Patrick’s Day From The Duck Store!
Here at the Literary Duck, we’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with some of our favorite Irish authors. May the Luck of the Irish be with you!
By: Neil Jordan
“I had been mistaken for him so many times that when I heard he had died it was as if part of myself had died too.” So begins Mistaken, the new bestselling novel from the master of gothic fiction, Neil Jordan. Kevin and Gerald were two boys growing up on opposite sides of the Dublin economic divide. Though they had never met, they shared a growing awareness of each other through episodes of mistaken identity. Yet Kevin was doubly haunted, living next door to the one-time residence of Bram Stoker, and the shadow of both a vampire and Gerald stretch far across his early years. For a time, the boys’ doppelganger paths would cross innocently enough—one stealing the other’s unwitting girlfriend, or being called out to in the street—until a family tragedy sends them both down a much darker path. (Publisher’s Marketing)
Mistaken comes complete with a plot as precise and as crafted as that of the finest thriller, filtered through an insistent narrative voice that holds the stricken reader as if at gunpoint. For all the revelation and the anger, it is the writing, the linguistic artistry that ultimately leaves one gasping. Be warned: this is a great international novel, a great Irish novel and, most of all, a great Dublin novel that thoughtfully heeds Joyce and then breaks free the way a child eventually shrugs off even the most loving and beloved of parents.” (Irish Times)
Edited By: Pat Boran
An anthology of prose and poetry by some of the best-known living Irish writers, in support of the voluntary body Shine, supporting people affected by mental ill health. Contributors include Colm Toibin, Colum McCann, Claire Keegan, John Montague, Brendan Kennelly, Paula Meehan, Kevin Barry, Thomas Kinsella, Nuala N Dhomhnaill and many others. Edited and introduced by Pat Boran with a Foreword by broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan. (Publisher’s Marketing)
By: Emma Donoghue
A tale of grief and lust, frustration and hilarity, death and family. Penelope O’Grady and Cara Wall are risking disaster when, like teenagers in any intolerant time and place—here, a Dublin convent school in the late 1970s—they fall in love. Yet Cara, the free spirit, and Pen, the stoic, craft a bond so strong it seems as though nothing could sever it: not the bickering, not the secrets, not even Cara’s infidelities. But thirteen years on, a car crash kills Cara and rips the lid off Pen’s world. Pen is still in the closet, teaching at her old school, living under the roof of Cara’s gentle father, who thinks of her as his daughter’s friend. How can she survive widowhood without even daring to claim the word? Over the course of one surreal week of bereavement, she is battered by memories that range from the humiliating, to the exalted, to the erotic, to the funny. It will take Pen all her intelligence and wit to sort through her tumultuous past with Cara, and all the nerve she can muster to start remaking her life. (Publisher’s Marketing)
By: Roddy Doyle
The Man Booker Prize-winning author takes the pulse of modern Ireland with a masterful new collection of stories. Roddy Doyle has earned a devoted following for his wry wit, his uncanny ear, and his ability to fully capture the hearts of his characters. Bullfighting, his second collection of stories, offers a series of bittersweet takes on men and middle age, revealing a panorama of Ireland today. Moving from classrooms to local pubs to bullrings, these tales feature an array of men taking stock and reliving past glories, each concerned with loss in different ways—of their place in the world, of their power, their virility, health, and love. “Recuperation” follows a man as he sets off on his daily, prescribed walk around his neighborhood, the sights triggering recollections of his family and his younger days. In “Animals,” George recalls caring for his children’s many pets and his heartfelt effort to spare them grief when they died or disappeared. The title story captures the mixture of bravado and helplessness of four friends who go off to Spain on holiday. Sharply observed, funny and moving, these thirteen stories present a new vision of contemporary Ireland, of its woes and triumphs, and middle-aged men trying to break out of the routines of their lives. (Publisher’s Marketing)
By: Anne Enright
In this gorgeous critique of Ireland as the Celtic Tiger draws its dying breaths, Enright chronicles an affair between 32-year-old Gina Moynihan, and Seán Vallely, a rich, dutiful husband and a devoted if somewhat inept father to the otherworldly, epileptic Evie, not yet 13. Set against a backdrop of easy money, second homes and gratuitous spending, the dissolution of Gina’s and Sean’s marriages is both an antidote to and a symptom of the economic prosperity that gripped the country until its sudden and devastating fall from grace in 2008: “In Ireland, if you leave the house and there is a divorce, then you lose the house…. You have to sleep there to keep your claim…. You think it is about sex, and then you remember the money.” There are, as with any affair, casualties, but what weighs most heavily on Gina is not what will become of her husband, Conor, but rather Evie, who sees Gina kissing her father, and innocently asks if she might be kissed too, oblivious to the fact that this moment heralds the end of her family. She eventually becomes all too aware that her father is gone and that she’s stuck with her sad, neurotic mother. And so the question that remains at the end of this masterful and deeply satisfying novel is not just what will happen to Ireland, but what will happen to Evie? (Publisher’s Weekly)
By: Sebastian Barry
A masterful novel filled with the bittersweet ruminations of an 89-year-old woman as she reflects on her rich life while contemplating death. The latest from the award-winning Irish novelist (The Secret Scripture, etc.) and playwright takes the form of a first-person narrative by Lilly Bere, who has lived most of her life in America since emigrating from Ireland in the wake of World War I, after she and her fiancé were targeted by the IRA. Lilly largely recounts her life through the men who have defined it: the father who raised her, the fiancé whom she followed into exile, the mysterious American husband who wooed her after her fiancé’s murder, the son who became a walking casualty of war, the grandson she mourns over the 17 days that provide the novel with its structure, the present from which her memory takes flight. Surprises abound, as the novel proceeds from the intimacy of a bereaved woman’s recollections to a meditation on life, death, identity and America that achieves an epic scope and philosophical depth. It also sustains a page-turning momentum, leaving the reader in suspense until the very end whether this novel is an extended suicide note, a confession or an affirmation of life’s blessings and embrace of its contradictions, as those various strains show the possibility of becoming one. As Lilly writes, “I am dwelling on things I love, even if a measure of tragedy is stitched into everything, if you follow the thread long enough.” She finds her experience and identity profoundly shaped by America, a prism that puts her native Ireland in fresh perspective: “People love Ireland because they can never know it, like a partner in a successful marriage.” Through her extended contemplation of “the gift of life, oftentimes so difficult to accept, the horse whose teeth we are often so inclined to inspect,” Lilly reveals herself to be a woman of uncommon sense and boundless compassion.
A novel to be savored. (Kirkus Reviews)
By: Alan Glynn
In this elegantly plotted thriller from Irish author Glynn (Winterland), Dublin reporter Jimmy Gilroy, who’s hurting for steady work, seizes the opportunity to write the life story of hard-partying Susie Monaghan, a washed-up actress killed three years earlier with five others in an unexplained helicopter crash off the coast of Donegal. Almost immediately, Gilroy encounters resistance, making him want to dig deeper, particularly into Monaghan’s final days. Yet when he’s offered the plum job of co-writing ex-prime minister Larry Bolger’s autobiography, with explicit instructions to drop all other assignments, Gilroy reluctantly agrees. When Bolger, recently off the wagon, lets slip that Monaghan’s death was merely collateral damage, Gilroy knows he can’t abandon his earlier project. Further digging leads to a vast conspiracy with international implications. Glynn handles multiple story lines that would trip up a lesser writer, and his characters populate a world where nothing is black and white. (Publisher’s Weekly)
By: Frank DeLaney
Frank Delaney, New York Times bestselling author of Ireland, Shannon, Tipperary, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, and The Matchmaker of Kenmare, is the unparalleled master of Irish historical fiction, bringing Ireland to life with exceptional warmth, wisdom, and wit. Now, in The Last Storyteller, Delaney weaves an absorbing tale of lasting love, dangerous risk, and the healing power of redemption.
“Every legend and all mythologies exist to teach us how to run our days. In kind fashion. A loving way. But there’s no story, no matter how ancient, as important as one’s own. So if we’re to live good lives, we have to tell ourselves our own story. In a good way.” So says James Clare, Ben MacCarthy’s beloved mentor, and it is this fateful advice that will guide Ben through the tumultuous events of Ireland in 1956. The national mood is downtrodden; poverty, corruption, and a fledgling armed rebellion rattle the countryside, and although Ben wants no part of the upstart insurrection along the northern border, he unknowingly falls in with an IRA sympathizer and is compromised into running guns. Yet despite his perilous circumstances, all he can think about is finding his former wife and true love, the actress Venetia Kelly. Parted forcibly from Ben years ago, Venetia has returned to Ireland with her new husband, a brutal man and coarse but popular stage performer by the name of Gentleman Jack. Determined not to lose Venetia again, Ben calls upon every bit of his love, courage, and newfound gun-running connections to get her back. And as Ben fights to recapture his halcyon days with Venetia, he must finally reconcile his violent and flawed past with his hopes for a bright and loving future. Brimming with fascinating Irish history, daring intrigue, and the drama of legendary love, The Last Storyteller is an unforgettable novel as richly textured and inspiring as Ireland itself. (Publisher’s Marketing)
By: Maeve Binchy
Maeve Binchy is back with a tale of joy, heartbreak and hope, about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close-knit Dublin community. When Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child, he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a single father battling demons of his own, Noel can’t do it alone. Fortunately, he has a competent, caring network of friends, family and neighbors: Lisa, his unlucky-in-love classmate, who moves in with him to help him care for little Frankie around the clock; his American cousin, Emily, always there with a pep talk; the newly retired Dr. Hat, with more time on his hands than he knows what to do with; Dr. Declan and Fiona and their baby son, Frankie’s first friend; and many eager babysitters, including old friends Signora and Aidan and Frankie’s doting grandparents, Josie and Charles. But not everyone is pleased with the unconventional arrangement, especially a nosy social worker, Moira, who is convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it’s up to Noel to persuade her that everyone in town has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie. (Publisher’s Marketing)
By: Joseph O’Connor
“1907 Edwardian Dublin,” a city of whispers and rumors. At the Abbey Theatre W. B. Yeats is working with the talented John Synge, his resident playwright. It is here that Synge, the author of The Playboy of the Western World and The Tinker’s Wedding, will meet an actress still in her teens named Molly Allgood. Rebellious, irreverent, beautiful, flirtatious, Molly is a girl of the inner-city tenements, dreaming of stardom in America. Witty and watchful, she has dozens of admirers, but it is the damaged older playwright who is her secret passion despite the barriers of age, class, education and religion. Synge is a troubled, reticent genius, the son of a once prosperous landowning family, a poet of fiery language and tempestuous passions. Yet his life is hampered by conventions and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Scarred by a childhood of immense loneliness and severity, he has long been ill, but he loves to walk the wild places of Ireland. The affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is turbulent, sometimes cruel, and often tender.
“1950s postwar London,” an old woman walks across the city in the wake of a hurricane. As she wanders past bombsites and through the forlorn beauty of wrecked terraces and wintry parks, her mind drifts in and out of the present as she remembers her life’s great love, her once dazzling career, and her travels in America. Vivid and beautifully written, Molly’s swirling, fractured narrative moves from Dublin to London via New York with luminous language and raw feeling. Ghost Light is a story of great sadness and joy—a tour de force from the widely acclaimed and bestselling author of Star of the Sea. (Publisher’s Marketing)
Coming in June:
By: Colm Toibin
In a brilliant, nuanced, and wholly original collection of essays, the bestselling and award-winning author of Brooklyn and The Empty Family offers a fascinating exploration of famous writers’ relationships to their families and their work. From Jane Austen’s aunts to Tennessee Williams’ mentally ill sister, the impact of intimate family dynamics can be seen in many of literature’s greatest works. In New Ways to Kill Your Mother, Colm Toibin—celebrated both for his award-winning fiction and his provocative book reviews and essays, and currently the prestigious Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia—traces and interprets those intriguing, eccentric, often twisted family ties.
Through the relationship between W.B. Yeats and his father, Thomas Mann and his children, and J.M. Synge and his mother, Toibin examines a world of relations, richly comic or savage in its implications. In Roddy Doyle’s writing on his parents, Toibin perceives an Ireland reinvented. From the dreams and nightmares of John Cheever’s journals, Toibin illuminates this darkly comic misanthrope and his relationship to his wife and his children. “Educating an intellectual woman,” Cheever remarked, “is like letting a rattlesnake into the house.” Acutely perceptive and imbued with rare tenderness and wit, New Ways to Kill Your Mother is a thought-provoking look at writers’ most influential bonds and a secret key to reading and enjoying their work. (Publisher’s Marketing)
Coming in July:
By: John Boyne
From the beloved John Boyne, a powerful, poignant novel about how we are to be good in the face of disaster. September 1919: Twenty-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver some letters to Marian Bancroft. During the Great War, Tristan fought alongside Marian’s brother Will who, in 1917, laid down his gun on the battlefield, declared himself a conscientious objector and was shot as a traitor, an act which brought shame and dishonor on the Bancroft family. But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan’s visit. He holds a secret deep in his soul. One that he is desperate to unburden himself of to Marian, if he can only find the courage. As they stroll through the streets of a city still coming to terms with the end of the war, he recalls his friendship with Will, from the training ground at Aldershot to the trenches of Northern France, and speaks of how the intensity of their friendship brought him from brief moments of happiness and self-discovery to long periods of despair and pain.” (Publisher’s Marketing)