Sunday, April 17, 2011

A frantic Friday at Cúirt 2011

The Druid theatre is full to capacity. The people who couldn't get seats are standing out in the lobby, craning their necks so they can hear the author read.

The writer in question is Kevin Barry, whose debut novel City Of Bohane is one of the most anticipated Irish novels of the year. His collection of short stores There Are Little Kingdoms is a gem of a book. His appearance at last year's Cúirt was one of the highlights of the festival, when he read Fjord Of Killary - which was published in the New Yorker.

After a brief introduction by Alex Bowler - senior editor at Jonathan Cape - Kevin Barry takes to the stage. He thanks Bowler for being 'deranged in his enthusiasm' for City Of Bohane. Anyone who has read Kevin Barry can sympathise with the editor - the writer's work provokes giddy enthusiasm.

Kevin Barry is a superb reader of his work, proving that 'literary' and 'fun' are not mutually exclusive terms. Bohane sits on a peninsula that juts out between Limerick and Cork, a city with its own cant and a cadence that shows the uninhibited flair in Barry's writing. Here's a quote from a chapter that was read at the launch:

"More'n talk's what I got a fears on, H. Is said they gots three flatblocks marked Cusack 'bove on the Rises this las' while an' that's three flatblocks fulla headjobs with a grá on 'em for rowin,' ya check me?"

You'll develop an ear for this dialogue fairly quickly; it certainly had the audience in the Druid in knots. And judging by the queue of people waiting for Barry to sign their book after the reading, there'll be plenty of people learning Bohane this year. Ya check me?

The Cúirt merry-go-round was in full swing now and it was time to leg it down to Massimo on the Sea Rd where The Atlantis Collective were launching Eat The Swan, their third collection of short fiction. This was no ordinary reading, with visuals running while the writers read and live music backing up some of their pieces.

Swans were dismembered, a tennis match was recalled and other nefarious shenanigans were described. The Atlantis Collective are an inventive bunch, and deserve your attention. Buy their book! 

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