Lingo Festival 2014

Again my odyssey into the world of books, reading poetry and literature takes me somewhere stranger than the last time…

Saturday night I was honoured to be asked to be on the panel you see below for a Radio 1 Arena special called the Hero Hour. We all picked one poem we adored, talked about it and performed it in front of an audience in Smock Alley Theatre all for Childline.

It included, as you can see, Senator David Norris, Mary Coughlan, Sinead Gleeson, myself, Aengus Mac Grianna, Temper-Mental MissElayneous and Donal Ryan.

While it was lovely to meet new people (and I know Sinead and Sean well), I had more than a small fanboy moment chatting to Donal Ryan before and after. You might have seen my reviews of The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December.

I’ll let you know when it’s going out on the radio, it’ll be a very entertaining hour of radio…



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Book Seventy Five

Book Seventy Five 2014:

The Second Half by Roy Keane with Roddy Doyle


A book of two halves. Now that I have that cliché out of the way…

The first is worth your time – the fallout from the first book, the end of his time at United and his brief-lived trip to Celtic.

It lost me later on when he started in management for the first time. At that stage large tracts of the book are taken up with week to week results, transfers, points earned and lost and all gets a bit stats heavy after a while.

I would have liked to get inside Keano’s non-football head more, I suppose. Even at the end of this there are huge parts of his life (home, family, friends) that are entirely opaque.

For the footy-obsessed.


And yes, I’m conscious that title makes it sound like a beer and an octopus mated.

About time for another one of my rambling “here are a few new craft beers that I’ve had recently that i think you might like too” posts, no?


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Although, to be fair, it’s far from the first time I’ve had a Sierra Nevada…

As well as that I was in P Mac’s pub over on Lower Stephen’s Street for the first tim q couple of weeks ago. Love what’s n offer, nice vibe and the snugs on the left hand side as you go in are perfect for a quiet pint or 2…


All the old posts on craft beers adventures are HERE.

Book Seventy Four

Book Seventy Four 2014:

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess


I’m of a sufficient vintage that I first saw Stanley Kubrick’s movie of the book when it was still banned in Ireland (on a pirated VHS with Dutch subtitles, now that you ask) but I’ve never made it to Anthony Burgess original book until now.

What kept me?

It’s a towering masterpiece of SF (unlike so many reviews I read, I tend to never use the “M” word). A tricky, slippery cavalcade of partly made up language with bastardised Russian telling the compelling story of 15-year-old Alex and his droogs, and asking the grand existential question of whether it’s better to have a human with free will you can’t control (and all of the uncertainty that entails), or one with none who is little more than a drone but behaves himself.

From the absolute top drawer of SF and a piece of genius.

Book Seventy Three

Book Seventy Three 2014:

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein


I’ve read, enjoyed and gotten enraged by all of Naomi Klein’s books over the years.

This is the first one that terrified me. It should terrify you too.

In it she starts from the same point many of us are at:

(1) Climate change is terrible.

(2) Something will have to be done.

(3) My kids will probably be the ones who’ll have to sort it out.

(4) Sure what can I do about it anyway, governments will have to save the day.

(5) Even if that doesn’t happen I’m sure science will swoop in at the last-minute with a miracle machine to make sure we don’t all collectively live in a poorly shot remake of Mad Max or Waterworld.

She then works through point by point showing us that not only are we screwed, we’re all screwed NOW, the path capitalism has taken in the last few decades is a massively contributing factor and that fossil fuel companies will do everything in their power to keep on making money no matter if it means that the rest of us will all die in the next couple of decades as a result.

Everyone needs to read this now. And then do something big. IMMEDIATELY.

If not, the planet will boil and drown before the end of our own lifetimes and we will have no-one else to blame but ourselves.

That’s it.

The Bookseller YA Book Prize 2014 and Me…


It’s been a weird year or two.

As a result of starting to talk online and blog about something I’ve done all my life (reading bloody books!) I’ve ended up in the strangest places for someone who does my day job (playing pop music and talking nonsense).

I’ve presented an award at the Irish Book Awards, been on a panel for 1City 1Book, performed at Words On The Street, reviewed books on Radio 1’s Arena, written and performed at Under My Bed, launched Sinéad Crowley’s book, I even ended up getting my own newspaper column and I’m about to take part in this year’s Lingo and Bram Stoker Festivals.

The weirdest of all must surely be this, and now I can finally spout…

The Bookseller has been the business magazine of the UK book industry since 1858. Earlier this year they decided to start a new book prize for the UK and Ireland. I’ll let them explain:

Earlier in the year, here at The Bookseller we published an article about the wide number of children’s book prizes in the UK. But something soon became very clear; there was no prize for British and Irish YA authors.

Now we have decided to fill the gap in the market with The Bookseller YA Book Prize. Submissions are now open until 31st October and we are looking for the best YA fiction books for Teenagers and Young Adults published this year from authors in the UK and Ireland.

In December we will publish a shortlist of the best books submitted to reflect the wide diversity of YA books available today; from dystopian and sci-fi literature to comedy, horror or drama. Our expert teen readers and industry judges will then choose their favourite title and the winner will be presented with a £2,000 prize at a ceremony at Foyles on 19th March 2015.

I’m honoured to have been asked to be one of those judges.

The website is here:

Get submitting, Irish publishers! Good luck.

Book Seventy Two

Book Seventy Two 2014:

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami


I’m not sure why I still continue to torture myself with collections of short stories. Invariably even the greatest ones (I include Joyce’s Dubliners in this too) are always made up of a few dull ones, a few decent ones and a few stellar ones, it’s only the proportion of each that changes.

Here it’s a bit more complex.

I love his work (read 1Q84 last year, click here for my reviews of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and the new one Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years Of Pilgrimage) and one of the stories here is the genesis for Wind-Up Bird, but I’m not sure how what he does translates to short form.

He’s at his absolute best when he writes long, sprawling, gentle, detailed things and in some cases here, the constraint of 20 pages just makes what he writes seems weirs for the sake of weird.

There are a few beautiful perfect stories here though and it’s overall a very decent read.