Skyrocketing to the number one spot on the Irish bestseller fiction list just three days after its release on February 28th, Emma Hannigan’s The Gift of Friends was sadly, published posthumously.
The Gift of Friends is, according to the blurb, “a life-affirming, uplifting story that celebrates the strength and joys of female friendship across generations”.
As we watch the novel jump into the hands of many readers, we are reminded of the author’s final days. “All good things must come to an end. The time that I knew was borrowed must be given back soon, so it seems,” author Emma Hannigan wrote on her Facebook page four weeks before her untimely death from breast cancer.
Before her death, a social media campaign was launched with the hashtag that said #HelpEmmaHelpOthers, urging people to raise €100,000 for Breast Cancer Ireland. The Irish Times notes that “the campaign raised over €135,000 (approx $152,600) within three weeks”. Then, just a few days before her death, Emma Hannigian announced that her thirteenth novel had been completed.
Image Via Independent.ie
As we collect our copies of Hannigan’s final book, we must think of her philosophy, as remembered by her father Philip. “…[L]ook into the past,” Philip Hannigan told the independent, “and try to just remember the good things. If you remember the bad, you end up bitter and sad.”
This is the repetitive dialogue between Vladimir and Estragon in Irish playwright Sameul Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The story revolves around two men standing by a tree waiting for a character named Godot (the pronunciation is God-oh). While waiting, the duo talks about many absurd issues, arguing and reconciling, and figuring out games to fill in the time. The absence of this unknown being creates an agitated atmosphere.
Since the script was published in 1952, Waiting for Godot has been put on stage ceaselessly. Now, the Garry Hynes-directed production of Waiting for Godotfrom Ireland’s distinguished Druid Theatre will play Off-Broadway from October 16th to November 18th, in Lincoln Center’s 2018 White Light Festival.
Garry Hynes co-founded the Druid Theatre Company in Dublin in 1975. She’s worked as the Artistic Director from 1975 to 1991, and from 1995 to present. Her brilliant list of awards includes the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1998), the Joe A. Callaway Award for Outstanding Directing for The Cripple of Inishman (2009). She received The Irish Times/ESB Irish Theatre Awards for Best Director for DruidShakespeare, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and Waiting for Godot, as well as a Special Tribute Award for her contribution to Irish Theatre (2005).
One concern about adapting a classic literary work is that how to surprise the audience? In an interview, Director Hynes said:
You never know how a production is going to be responded to and you certainly never know in a play like this…One of difficulties in actually rehearsing the play was as you were setting it up, you were looking at this iconic images coming to life. One the one hand, I’ve seen this all before, in a hundred other productions or photographs, and yet at the same time you’re trying to own it and make this something that comes out of your own heart. So, to have audiences respond in such a way saying, ‘Wow! I love that’ rather than saying ‘Oh, I’ve seen Waiting for Godot.’ That’s been great.
I learned something distressing as I scrolled on popular social networking site Twitter.com this afternoon. Well, most of what I learn from Twitter is generally distressing on some level, but this nugget of information was particularly bad.
The information is as follows:
There exists in this world of ours, a Marvel-created Irish superhero. That in itself is not distressing. I am, of course, all for the representation of my oft-ridiculed people. However, this superhero is named Shamrock, and really there’s no coming back from that. Of course there is no attempt to thereafter steer clear of Irish stereotypes.
Shamrock’s name is Molly Fitzgerald, she has red hair, a bright green shamrock themed costume, a father deeply involved in Irish nationalist terrorist movement the Irish Republican Army, (think of them as you sip on your Irish Carbomb cocktails…) and her superpower is, to put it quite simply, the Luck of the Irish. She hails from Dunshaughlin, pronounced ‘Dun-shock-lin’, a town in County Meath, just outside Dublin, which I can only assume the creators chose because it sounds, like, really, really Irish.
Shamrock continues absolutely milking those Irish stereotypes by serving “as a vessel for displaced poltergeists and souls that have died as innocent victims of war; these spirits manifest themselves for fractions of seconds to cause good luck for her and bad luck for those who oppose her..” Begorah!
Amusingly, a further Twitter user pointed out that the ‘Reception’ section of her relatively sparse Wikipedia page reads:
Screen Rant ranked Shamrock as one of the superheroes that Marvel wants you to forget.
Comic Book Resources placed her as one of the superheroes Marvel wants you to forget.
I cannot say that Screen Rant and Comic Book Resources are wrong. Thrill to the original bearer of the bad news below:
Early morning reminder that Marvel created an Irish super hero from Dunshaughlin, with a RA family, and her super power was literally “the luck of the Irish”. pic.twitter.com/EK62e5zPjt
Irish writer James Joyce may best be remembered as a literary icon whose written work, Ulysses, cemented his image as a wise and intelligent mind hiding behind a soft and innocent-looking face.
Don’t be fooled, however. Yes, he is in fact intelligent, but he’s certainty not soft (in more ways than one). Behind those puppy dog eyes, thick mustache, and posh bowtie happens to be a dirty old man. Seriously dirty, dirty man.
The same passion and experimental attitude this linguistic mastermind brought to his stories and poetry he also translated to other avenues of his personal life. For those unfamiliar with Joyce, he had a passionate relationship with Nora Barnacle, whom he met in 1904 (the same date he later chose as the setting of Ulysses).
Their enduring love was filled with children, a marriage, and a great deal of passion. The sensual bond between the pair was evident throughout their public relationship. However, it became much more evident following their deaths when, in 1975, a book containing Joyce’s side of their written correspondence was published. The book, appropriately titled, Selected Letters of James Joyce (which you can buy here), brought to light their very personal and steamy love affair that rivaled anything E. L. James ever wrote.
Don’t believe it? Take a peek for yourself. Just a warning, however, they are absolutely NSFW! You’ve been warned.
My love for you allows me to pray to the spirit of eternal beauty and tenderness mirrored in your eyes or fling you down under me on that softy belly of yours and fuck you up behind, like a hog riding a sow, glorying in the very stink and sweat that rises from your arse, glorying in the open shape of your upturned dress and white girlish drawers and in the confusion of your flushed cheeks and tangled hair. It allows me to burst into tears of pity and love at some slight word, to tremble with love for you at the sounding of some chord or cadence of music or to lie heads and tails with you feeling your fingers fondling and tickling my ballocks or stuck up in me behind and your hot lips sucking off my cock while my head is wedged in between your fat thighs, my hands clutching the round cushions of your bum and my tongue licking ravenously up your rank red cunt. I have taught you almost to swoon at the hearing of my voice singing or murmuring to your soul the passion and sorrow and mystery of life and at the same time have taught you to make filthy signs to me with your lips and tongue, to provoke me by obscene touches and noises, and even to do in my presence the most shameful and filthy act of the body. You remember the day you pulled up your clothes and let me lie under you looking up at you while you did it? Then you were ashamed even to meet my eyes.
You are mine, darling, mine! I love you. All I have written above is only a moment or two of brutal madness. The last drop of seed has hardly been squirted up your cunt before it is over and my true love for you, the love of my verses, the love of my eyes for your strange luring eyes, comes blowing over my soul like a wind of spices. My prick is still hot and stiff and quivering from the last brutal drive it has given you when a faint hymn is heard rising in tender pitiful worship of you from the dim cloisters of my heart.
Nora, my faithful darling, my seet-eyed blackguard schoolgirl, be my whore, my mistress, as much as you like (my little frigging mistress! My little fucking whore!) you are always my beautiful wild flower of the hedges, my dark-blue rain-drenched flower.
As you know, dearest, I never use obscene phrases in speaking. You have never heard me, have you, utter an unfit word before others. When men tell in my presence here filthy or lecherous stories I hardly smile. Yet you seem to turn me into a beast. It was you yourself, you naughty shameless girl who first led the way. It was not I who first touched you long ago down at Ringsend. It was you who slid your hand down inside my trousers and pulled my shirt softly aside and touched my prick with your long tickling fingers, and gradually took it all, fat and stiff as it was, into your hand and frigged me slowly until I came off through your fingers, all the time bending over me and gazing at me out of your quiet saintlike eyes. It was your lips too which first uttered an obscene word. I remember well that night in bed in Pola. Tired of lying under a man one night you tore off your chemise violently and began to ride me up and down. Perhaps the horn I had was not big enough for you for I remember that you bent down to my face and murmured tenderly ‘Fuck up, love! fuck up, love!’
I did as you told me, you dirty little girl, and pulled myself off twice when I read your letter. I am delighted to see that you do like being fucked arseways. Yes, now I can remember that night when I fucked you for so long backwards. It was the dirtiest fucking I ever gave you, darling. My prick was stuck up in you for hours, fucking in and out under your upturned rump. I felt your fat sweaty buttocks under my belly and saw your flushed face and mad eyes. At every fuck I gave you your shameless tongue come bursting out through your lips and if I gave you a bigger stronger fuck than usual fat dirty farts came spluttering out of your backside. You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I fucked them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole. It is wonderful to fuck a farting woman when every fuck drives one out of her. I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. It is a rather girlish noise not like the wet windy fart which I imagine fat wives have. It is sudden and dry and dirty like what a bold girl would let off in fun in a school dormitory at night. I hope Nora will let off no end of her farts in my face so that I may know their smell also.
You say when I go back you will suck me off and you want me to lick your cunt, you little depraved blackguard. I hope you will surprise me some time when I am asleep dressed, steal over me with a whore’s glow in your slumbrous eyes, gently undo button after button in the fly of my trousers and gently take out your lover’s fat mickey, lap it up in your moist mouth and suck away at it till it gets fatter and stiffer and comes off in your mouth. Sometime too I shall surprise you asleep, lift up your skirts and open your hot drawers gently, then lie down gently by you and begin to lick lazily round your bush. You will begin to stir uneasily then I will lick the lips of my darling’s cunt. You will begin to groan and grunt and sigh and fart with lust in your sleep. Then I will lick up faster and faster like a ravenous dog until your cunt is a mass of slime and your body wriggling wildly.
Goodnight, my little farting Nora, my dirty little fuckbird! There is one lovely word, darling, you have underlined to make me pull myself off better. Write me more about that and yourself, sweetly, dirtier, dirtier.
If you can’t get enough, the great news is, there’s more. You can read more of James Joyce’s letters by clicking on the link here.
Feature Image Courtesy of The Irish Times and Her Campus
Dave Rudden’s star is on the rise, with a three-book deal and a movie in the works! His first novel, ‘Knights of the Borrowed Dark’ debuted in 2016 to rave reviews, and was quickly followed by sequel ‘The Forever Court,’ with a third book on the way!
Rudden frequently tours schools and libraries reading to children and talking to them about issues close to his heart such as mental health.
He says: “I know there is an unwillingness to expose kids to the darkness of the world too early but I think people forget being a kid is an incredibly scary thing anyway. When you’re five, you literally think things are going to eat you at any point… I tell kids darkness can be beaten.”
‘Knights of the Borrowed Dark’ follows reluctant hero and orphan Denizen Hardwick. It’s in the process of being adapted for the big screen, though little is known about the film yet. Rudden’s sharp wit and knack for adventure make this fantasy romp a total page-turner!
Louise O’Neill is arguably the face of modern-day feminism is Ireland, and is a leading voice in the movement for women’s rights and equality. Her books deal with specific feminist themes and have gained her serious international attention.
She is currently working on a feminist re-telling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid’ entitled ‘The Surface Breaks.” The book, entitled “The Surface Breaks,” will be published in the UK in May 2018, with the US publication date still to be announced.
Sarah Maria Griffin came to fiction from non-fiction, with her first book being a collection of essays about emigrating from Ireland to San Francisco, entitled ‘Not Lost.’ Now based in Dublin once again, she has published her first novel, ‘Spare and Found Parts.’ Set in dystopian Dublin, the story follows Nell, a teenage girl, the daughter of the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs that everyone now uses. She is the only one with her machinery on the inside — her heart — and she sets out to build herself a friend.
Kirkus notes that “Griffin explores the ethical quandaries of progress, love, class, and ambition in language as ornate as the characters’ decorated prostheses.”
At home, Griffin uses her writing in her activism, penning the poem “We Face This Land” for the growing movement for women’s reproductive rights in Ireland.
Eoin Colfer achieved international recognition after the publication of the first in his ‘Artemis Fowl’ series, which became a New York Times bestseller. He is the author of nearly 30 novels, as well as shorts stories and graphic novels. More than half his books have become New York Times bestsellers!
Colfer was commissioned by Douglas Adams’ widow to write a sequel to ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, which came out in 2009, entitled “And Another Thing…” Colfer said the experience was “like suddenly being offered the superpower of your choice.”
Colfer has been on the scene for a while, and has an enormous body of work, but things only continue to improve for this prolific author. “Artemis Fowl” is currently being adapted for the big screen by non other than Disney!
Hennessy’s career trajectory is fascinating. Signing her first book deal at the tender age of 12, Hennessy published consistently throughout her teen years, amassing a body of work to rival any author- nine novels, no less!
After taking a break from novel writing to focus on university and a career in the publishing world, she returned to the world of YA with a bang last year, publishing ‘Nothing Tastes As Good,’ closely followed by ‘Like Other Girls.’ Hennessy typically deals with issues faced by teenage girls, such as sexism, sexuality, self image and social issues.
Irish author extraordinaire Marian Keyes called ‘Nothing Tastes As Good’ “utterly magnificent!,” saying she “read it with awe,” while a review in The Irish Times said “nothing has quite as daringly set out to cross new frontiers”
In her spare time (it’s a wonder she has any!) she teaches at Big Smoke Writing Factory, a creative writing school she co-founded, and is co-editor of literary journal Banshee.
Featured Image Courtesy of Shutter Shock, YouTube and Boast Talk