Book Review – Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

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It had been out for a while, but I can’t believe it’s only 6 months since I got my arse in gear and reviewed Louise’s first, award-winning book Only Ever Yours.

Unlike her first gem, this is not set in the future; this is Ireland right now in which Emma, a teenage girl, is gang-raped while drunk at a party, remembers nothing of it and wakes up on the doorstep of her family house the next morning. She has pictures of what happened trawled across the internet and then has to deal with the unexpected fallout as the perpetrators are outed, social media weighs in and the law slowly grinds into gear.

First things first. This is not an easy book to read. It’s harrowing, brutal and nauseating in places because of the subject matter and the vivid reality that it’s all shown in. I realise that’s stating the bloody obvious. I only do so because I’d urge you to get beyond any initial squeamishness you might have – this book looks under the bonnet of society, sex, violence and all of its generally fucked-up hypocrisies.

What’s so perfect about how O’Neill tackles the story is Emma herself – she’s vain, self-centred, has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and thus makes the perfect fictional test case for the disturbing attitudes of seemingly civilised sections of society when it comes to how it deals with the “blurred lines” (of which, of course, are no such things) of rape.

It barrels full-tilt through victim blaming, rape culture, religion, scandal avoidance and the sickening insularity of small towns not just in Ireland but everywhere. It’s thrilling and sickening to see how she pulls absolutely no punches in her ending just as with her first novel (how you wish every author had the balls to do that!)

One other thought – I would never suggest that “YA” is a lessening term, but, just as with Only Ever Yours, this book could easily be released straight on the shelves of new mainstream fiction and no-one would be any the wiser.

You have to read it. I am pleased to add my voice to the chorus of reviews urging you to grab a copy. It’s impossible ever to describe something like Asking For It as “entertaining” or “a great read”. It’s just great.

Book Review – We Don’t Know What We’re Doing by Thomas Morris

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It’s been a while back since I read an early proof of Tom Morris’s lovely new collection of short stories. I merely know him as the editor of Stinging Fly and the brilliant Dubliners 100 anthology and that guy I met on a judging panel I was at a Literary Death Match event who was softly spoken, charming and instantly funnier with his assessments of the readers than any of the rest of us.

In this, his first collection of stories, he shows us the pulled back lace curtains of (mostly) Caerphilly with a young lad working his last shift in a video store amidst a messed up love life, a 78-year-old pensioner on the lookout for his third wife, a bunch of Welsh lads on a stag in Dublin and, in Nos Da a borderline SF story of genuine heartbreak and sadness, a man in a sort of purgatory who watches his ex through cameras that are used in his job to create memory tapes for customers unbeknownst to his new girlfriend.

These are gorgeous, gentle, evocative, mainly quite internal small town stories told with strokes of narrative beauty. I find books of short stories a bit frustrating and quite patchy sometimes but Tom’s book should be enough to make anyone that might be of a similar preconception change their mind.

I’m This Year’s MS Readathon Ambassador, It Seems…

There’s always something going on, right?

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Well I’m thrilled to announce I’m the ambassador for this year’s MS Readathon. It’s always a brilliant month for kids and adults alike to get together, read more and make money for a great cause – Multiple Sclerosis Ireland.

Sign up now and start reading from October – http://www.msreadathon.ie/readathon

Please share around people you think might like to get involved!

The Simon Stephens Interview

Bonkers, just bonkers.

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Thank you to everyone who came up to Dubray Books to watch me interview Simon Stephens about adapting The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time for stage all those years ago.

He’s still so passionate about it and about is work in general and it helped that he’s a bit of a rock star, great at holding a crowd and charismatic to boot. Perfect for an interviewer in a situation like that.

The event was done in association with my Book Club over on FB and around 50 of us went for a few beers and a blind book swap after. SO many lovely people who all met online and all seemed to get on like a house on fire (bit like the early days of my blogging life all those years ago).

The play itself is beautiful, gripping in places, heartbreaking in others, staged wonderfully and a must see in terms of travelling productions to come to the BGET in recent years. Just go…

Yes there are pics from the other night…

Dubray Books and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, in association with The National Theatre of Great Britain, held  a very special event with Rick O’Shea and playwright Simon Stephens (right). The Rick O’Shea Book Club event celebrated the highly anticipated arrival of the award winning play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which comes to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from 6-10 October as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.   Picture:Brian McEvoy No Repro fee for one use

Dubray Books and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, in association with The National Theatre of Great Britain, held  a very special event with Rick O’Shea and playwright Simon Stephens (right). The Rick O’Shea Book Club event celebrated the highly anticipated arrival of the award winning play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which comes to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from 6-10 October as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.   Picture:Brian McEvoy No Repro fee for one use

Dubray Books and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, in association with The National Theatre of Great Britain, held  a very special event with Rick O’Shea and playwright Simon Stephens. The Rick O’Shea Book Club event celebrated the highly anticipated arrival of the award winning play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which comes to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from 6-10 October as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.   Picture:Brian McEvoy No Repro fee for one use

Dubray Books and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, in association with The National Theatre of Great Britain, held  a very special event with Rick O’Shea and playwright Simon Stephens. The Rick O’Shea Book Club event celebrated the highly anticipated arrival of the award winning play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which comes to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from 6-10 October as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.  Picture:Brian McEvoy No repro fee for one use

And some taken by people in the crowd too:

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My own shot of the swap table before everyone dug in:

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And yes, there are few things more intimidating than your giant mug in the window of a bookstore…

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(The Curious Incident is part of this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival and tickets for the run in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre are on sale now).

Free Tweets 3

It’s that time again.

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The last two craft beers festivals in Dublin I’ve offered free RTs to attending brewers if they tweet me details of beers they’re bringing and what they’re doing, simple as.

Why? I like to think I’m part of that world now and I have a little social media heft I can offer small Irish companies I like.

What do I want in return? Nada.

Tweet me – @rickoshea

Book Review – Young God by Katherine Faw Morris

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I’m not sure I could ever use the word “enjoy” to describe Young God. It’s remarkably akin to being hit sharply across the head with a box set of the first series of True Detective.

Nikki is 13 when her mother falls from a cliff and she goes to find her absent father in his remote trailer and continue her family’s drug trade in the redneck Appalachians. She’s abused by her dead mother’s boyfriend, takes drugs copiously and participates in cutting up a body with an axe. Amongst other things.

This one is hard to quantify for me. I came away beaten, ragged and sort of brutalised by what I’d just read, but to me that’s such a rare event in literature it’s something to be embraced in itself. Do not, however, because of the age of the chief protagonist mistake this for YA no more than you would do the same for A Clockwork Orange. It’s very much not.

It’s a swift (only just over 200 pages), savage, dark, dizzyingly prosaic in spots, nasty, vivid and, at times, dazzling distastefully icky tale. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it – I recommend it, but be aware that it will be way too graphic and amoral for some.

New Things On A Saturday

Just before I went away recently I decided we’d take a Saturday out and head into town to go for a wonder around some of the craft beer spots I’ve never been to (interspersed with one of two I had!)

First stop was J.W. Sweetman’s on the quays. I hadn’t been in there for over 10 years since it was Messrs. Maguire and even them only briefly. Nice vibe, great staff, very decent in-house beers too.

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Next a quick pit stop in Beer Market (let’s be honest, very trip I have over that part of town involves a trip there). Had some wonderful Beavertown Gamma Ray for the first time… Crisps too.

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I’ve wanted to go up to 57 The Headline for ages but it’s very out of the way for me (despite me ma having been born only 500 yards up the road). Am hugely glad I did. The food was great, tons on the taps, nice ambience, quiet when I was there. Lovely stuff. You should go.

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Trailed up in the direction of Wexford Street and stopped in for one at the Camden Exchange. Decent beers but a bit too cool and tiny bit sterile for my liking. Great decor in the jacks, though…

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Finished up having one, or two, or three Goodbye Blue Mondays in Against The Grain.

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Best spot of the day and could have stayed there for much longer if the sun hadn’t gone down and home hadn’t called…

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What does that teach me? Trust your instincts when it comes to bars and stop shopping around all the time!

BTW, if you’re knocking around the upcoming Irish Craft Beer Festival (and if not, why not??) I’m glad to be sitting on a panel Hot Press are running. I’ll be discussing all things craft beery with some of the guys from White Gypsy, 8 Degrees and Kinnegar.

I may even sample some wares whilst doing so…

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Events I’m Doing From August On…

Did one of these posts a while back, now I can expand and add a few things.

Would love to see you show your face at one of these…

August 25th – Public Interview  with Simon Stephens / Book Club Night Out – Dubray Books, Grafton Street:

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I’ve written a post about all this already too – I’m interviewing playwright Simon Stephens about adapting The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time for stage and it’s in association with my FB Book Club so we’re having our first beers and book swap after!

The event in Dubray is just turn up, no tickets but do sign up to the book club if you’re coming to the afters!

 

August 27th – Craft Beer Panel – Irish Craft Beer Festival, RDS:

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This is just one I’m glad to be sitting on – Hot Press are running it. I’ll be discussing all things craft beery with some of the guys from White Gypsy, 8 Degrees and Kinnegar. I may even sample some wares whilst doing so…

 

August 30th – Public Interview with M. Night Shyamalan – Lighthouse Cinema:

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Yup. He’s in Dublin with his new movie, I’m chatting to him after it. Tickets are on sale HERE.

 

September 2nd – Launching Louise O’Neill’s “Asking For It” – Eason, O’Connell Street:

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This is another “just turn up” event. I am genuinely honoured to have been asked to launch Louise’s second book (following her award-winning Only Ever Yours). It’s one that will generate enormous talk around the subject and should be pressed into the hands of every teenager in the country.

 

September 11th – Public Interview with Anthony Horowitz – DLR Lexicon:

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I’ll be talking to the legendary Anthony Horowitz about his new James Bond Book written from original Ian Fleming notes – Trigger Mortis.

 

October 13th – Radio 2.0 Conference – Paris:

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Unlikely you’ll be interested in this but I’ll be delivering a keynote speech at this radio conference in Paris all about the effective use of social media in radio.

 

October 15th – Web Awards – RDS:

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You know what this is all about…

More to follow over the next few weeks as I’m allowed announce them.

Want to hire me for your event? Sure…

Details HERE.