Voices from the Grave

Ed Moloney's 'Voices from the Grave' published today has caused quite a stir here in Northern Ireland. The book is based on interviews with two former paramilitary leaders, David Ervine from the UVF and former IRA leader Brendan Hughes. An interview with Brendan Hughes claims that Gerry Adams the Sinn Féin President ordered the murder of Jean McConville over claims she was a British army informer.Nearly a decade ago Ed Moloney's book  'A Secret History of the IRA' detailed Adams’s involvement with the IRA’s Belfast brigade and their reign of terror in the early and mid 1970s.

The blurb for Voices from the Grave reads...
a truly ground-breaking piece of historical evidence-gathering initiated by Boston College, two former paramilitary leaders - one republican, one loyalist - speak with unprecedented frankness about their role in some of the most appalling violence of the Troubles. Their openness results in a book of shocking and irresistible testimony, their voices set in the context of a narrative by Ed Moloney of their lives and of the society they grew up in.

A review for  'A Secret History of the IRA' read... An in-depth authoritative read. A 'must buy' for those interested in modern republican history...Ed Moloney at his best!!! I'm sure there'll be similar reviews for Voices from the Grave too.

A timely reminder from Blackstaff Press

The Yellow Door: Our Story Our RecipesSummer time officially begins tomorrow and Blackstaff Press have kindly shared a recipe for 'Summer Pudding' from Simon Dougan's cookbook, The Yellow Door. They say...
Summer pudding does, truly, epitomise the taste of summer.
After reading the recipe here I'd agree with that.

Recent 'notable' tweets

I know some people have no time for twitter and for those readers like that occasionally I'll share tweets that are posted here on the BooksNI.Biz  website. These tweets are tweets from local publishers and authors and well worth reading if you want to keep up to date with the 'biz'.

Recent tweets...
Going to LBF? Come to the tweetup! 20 April, invitation here --> http://bit.ly/aE44lE #lbtweet

DianneAscroft Second year, second audience - it's great to find new readers. http://dianneascroft.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/second-year-second-audience/

Craig Ferguson, aka @CraigyFerg, talks about GHOSTS OF BELFAST movie: http://bit.ly/arHJ1t

 BooksNI.Biz now has a fan page on facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/pages/BooksNiBiz/333586131915 if you're that way inclined

Lee Child in Belfast (Wed 24th March), win a free ticket here - http://crimesceneni.blogspot.com/2010/03/lee-child-competition.html

 At Strabane library tonight doing my authorly thang

REQUIEMS FOR THE DEPARTED: Anthology of crime shorts based on Irish mythology, inc. my own story Queen of the Hill - http://bit.ly/dsHoNx

Colourpoint announce publication of our brand new book for KS3 History: History in Close-up, The Twentieth Century: tinyurl.com/ygaxdul

Never let go of what YOU strive for

Not only a true insight to the ever evolving big wave surf scene in Ireland but also an inspirational, emotional and personal journey by Al Mennie.
My mind was filled with thoughts should I really be doing this? Do I know what I've got myself into? Am I ready?
I felt I was feeling my way through big wave surfing at this stage largely with a trial and error approach. It was a weird time in my life because I also felt like that in my everyday life.source

Pioneering Northern Irish big wave surfer Al Mennie has recently, with the help of April Sky Design, published his first book.Al accepted as a contender into the 2007/2008 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards and as a nominee for selection into the Quiksilver Big Wave In Memory of Eddie Aikau event at Waimea Bay, Hawaii is one of only two European surfers to have ever achieved these prestigious accolades.
The video below shows a little of what he does when a huge swell hit the West Coast of Ireland on 7th November 2009.Al  is wearing the orange helmet, black wetsuit and is on the orange board.

The book cleverly entitled "Surfing Mennie Waves" is available to buy now.

Re-examining and re-appraising...

It's not very often to read and fully  understand one book I'd need to have read seven other books previously.It looks like it is the case with Peter Mahon's Violence, Politics and Textual Interventions in Northern Ireland. Starting with Joe Cleary's Literature, Partition and the Nation-State: Culture and Conflict in Ireland, Israel and Palestine (Cultural Margins) and Richard Bourke's Peace in Ireland: The War of Ideas would probably need to have been read to understand Peter Mahon's suggestions on the characterizations of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The blurb for Violence, Politics and Textual Interventions in Northern Ireland reads...
Drawing on the literary-anthropological work of René Girard and the psychoanalytical work of Jacques Lacan, Mahon's analysis of key Troubles texts seeks to move away from the all-too-common belief that the Troubles were the result of the repeated clashes of atavistic and instinctual tribal nationalisms. Using the work of both theorists, Mahon re-examines and re-appraises the complex deployment of recurrent motifs—such as language, violence, ritual, psycho-sexual dynamics, history, the law—in key Troubles texts. He then goes on to explore how the interaction between these texts and theorists makes it possible to theorize a new, flexible framework for reading and engaging with the dynamic interplay of violence, sexuality, politics and textuality that opens up alternate political and sexual possibilities.

Texts examined in the book include Jim Sheridan's In the Name of the Father, Terry George's Some Mother's Son, Neil Jordan's The Crying Game, Bernard MacLaverty’s Cal, Louise Dean’s This Human Season, Glenn Patterson’s That Which Was and Pat McCabe's Breakfast on Pluto The book looks like a very interesting read which evovled out of Peter's classes on Northern Irish literature and film at the University of British Columbia, where he lectures.

“For the house, darlin’s. We’re going to paint the O'Neill house yellow“

Patricia Falvey who was born and raised in Newry, Northern Ireland and now  living in Dallas has just published her first novel entitled The Yellow House...

Glenlea, County Armagh, Ireland 1905. When her family is torn apart by religious intolerance, personal tragedy, and explosive secrets, young Eileen O'Neill is determined to reclaim the Yellow House where her family had been happy and bring her broken family back home.
As war is declared on a local and global scale, Eileen cannot separate the politics from the personal impact of the conflict. Her choice is complicated by the influence of two men. James Conlon, a charismatic and passionate politcal activit is determined to win Irish independence from Great Britain at any cost, appeals to her warrior's soul.
But Eileen also finds herself drawn to Owen Sheridan, the wealthy and handsome black sheep of the pacifist family who owns the milll where she works, and who believes that peace can never be achieved through violence.

The choice that Eileen makes will change the course of all their lives and give her a true understanding of herself. Set in Ulster in the early 20th century, this novel brings to life the conflicts leading up to the birth of the border that divided the island of Ireland, and still exists today.
Joy Tipping from The Dallas Morning News reviews  the book...
The book tells the first-person story of Eileen O'Neill, whom we first meet as a child in Ulster, the epicenter of the conflict between the British rule-supporting Protestants and the Home Rule-supporting Catholics. Eileen's idyllic childhood, set in the bright house of the book's title, comes apart when she loses, in quick succession, both parents and two of her siblings.
Left with her younger brother to care for, she goes to work in a linen factory, attracting the attention of the owner's son, Owen Sheridan, a gentle Quaker who gets drawn into the political upheaval when he becomes a British military officer.
Eileen also finds herself attracted to James Conlan, a rough man on the other side of the battle, whose fighting spirit appeals to her own warrior nature.
As the book progresses, and the animosities between the Protestants and the now fully formed Irish Republican Army grow ever bloodier, Eileen is continually split, with conflicts of love, lust, compassion and loyalty running roughshod over her soul. The early scenes of Eileen's and James' lawless exploits for the Catholic resistance make for thrilling reading, and her gradual realization that lust doesn't necessarily lead to long-lasting contentment is realistic and sad.
Falvey's research is flawless, and she perfectly balances the fictional story with the real-life characters and events that populate it.


A memoir about golf and pursuing your dreams is due to be released this April in the USA. The book entitled 'Dream On' is written by John Richardson a 39 year old golfer who lives in Bangor, Northern Ireland. In May 2004 he set himself a challenge, he was a hacker golfer who couldn’t break 100 and wanted to break par at his local golf course. John wanted to do it in a year or less.  Sam Torrance told him to “dream on”.

James Corrigan, Golf Correspondent, The Independent wrote...
While the overwhelming majority of us would be content with the occasional miracle in a thousand efforts, the author went after 70 of them. Consecutively. Yes, the Ulsterman made it his mission to go from being unable to break 100, to breaking par in the space of a year. And not only that, but the self-avowed slob in his late thirties would do so while holding down a full-time job as well as bringing up a family. As Sam Torrance said when he heard of the project, 'Dream On!'. Thus the Scot gave Richardson his title, if not some extra incentive.

Published by Blackstaff Press in the UK and now Skyhorse Publishing in the US it's strange that the best recomendation I've read for this book came in the form of a tweet...

Just received the 'Dream On ' book from @breakpargolf. Nearly halfway already! It's like it was written exclusively for my quest...:)  @mygreenjacket

Read; here, there and everywhere

There's a lot of interest online and in the papers in Ian Sansom's latest book 'The Bad Book Affair'. Gerard from the CrimeSceneNI blog was at, what I'd term, an unusual launch for the book.
Last night I attended the most unconventional book event ever. Seriously, I doubt anyine can beat this. Organised by the folks at Literary Miscellany, Ian Sansom launched The Bad Book Affair at Belfast City Hall’s exhibition space and the Belfast Wheel...
I ended up in Ian Sansom’s big wheel carriage. We listened to a pre-recorded reading from The Bad Book Affair as the wheel raised us upwards for a lovely view of the Belfast city skyline in all its orange-lit splendour. Mister Sansom, always good for a chuckle, took the piss out of his reading and treated us to a few quips before disembarking the carriage to sign books as provided by David Torrans of No Alibis.

A couple of years ago I listened intently to the librarian who was interrogated about his job by Ian Sansom before he started writing his 'mobile library' series and was impressed by how much research Ian put into it.I'll admit I haven't read the book as yet and am ashamed to say none of the series but they're high up on my reading list now.

All over the net this book is being talked about and reviewed...

Mark Rose from Bookgasm...
a good-humored farce built around a large collection of oddballs

Patricia Craig @ The Independent...
For all its "mystery" aspect, The Bad Book Affair is, like its predecessors, less a detective novel than a work of humorous social observation, by turns astute, hilarious, wry and rueful. What it lacks in intrigue it makes up in clarity of style, and is engaging and diverting throughout. 

Summed up by Jack Goodstein@ blogcritics...
The Bad Book Affair is a whimsical entertainment that never hesitates to take potshots at a good many modern targets, and more often than not hits the bullseye.

World Book Day in Northern Ireland

Tomorrow is World Book Day,the biggest annual celebration of books and reading in the UK and Ireland.

'Read to a Million Kids', sponsored by Renaissance Learning, is a brand new initiative for World Book Day 2010. The 11 £1 Book stories, read by their authors or actors, will be broadcast online during World Book Day. Available exclusively to schools and libraries in the first instance, and supplemented with a fun quiz about the reading, please visit www.readtoamillionkids.co.uk to find out more and to register to participate. The films will be available for all to see for a period after the Day via this site, so if you're an interested child or parent, please visit us again.

In Northern Ireland, Libraries NI  are and have been holding Rhythm & Rhyme sessions for children.There are also quite a range of shops/bookshops throughout Northern Ireland  participating in World Book Day. These include Tesco,Sainsbury's, WH Smith, Waterstones, Unite The Nation,The Bookshop at Queens, Real Life andT Sheehy & Sons.
Tomorrow I shall try and read a few more chapters of Feels Like Maybe by Derry author Claire Allan, it's ok for guys to read chicklit, isn't it?

Gaylit in the North West.

Recently two, what could be termed as gay activists have had books published. They both happen to come from the North West. Gaylit, what I'm calling books written by gays, doesn't seem to be mainstream here in Northern Ireland yet.So it's interesting to see these books 'out' there.I've just finished a book by Patrick Gale who Bron Sibree says is 'hailed as Britains most succesful gay novelist'.It was an interetsing read showing his insight into the intertwined lives of a family of which only one person turned out to be gay. I'd love to read some work by local writers who are gay and get an insight into the way they think and interact.The books recently published were written by Mauk Donnabhain and Stephen Birkett.

Stephen's latest book 'Ulster Gay' was launched in Strabane a couple of weeks ago.Stephen has worked for over 20 years on gay-helplines and has written 'Ulster Gay'which he says is to chart Northern Ireland's gay history in novel form.Stephen first published a book entitled 'Ulster Alien' in 1999 which was set in the 1970s. The story of how Matthew, a young Protestant living in rural County Derry, discovers he is gay.The story follows the process of coming to terms with his sexuality and telling his friends in the climate of the troubles and the 'Save Ulster from Sodomy' campaign. 'Ulster Gay' takes Matthew and his friends through the 1980s and charts the rise of AIDS and the impact this had on gay people in Northern Ireland.

Stephen said, "Although that is the main theme, the novel explores all sorts of other issues like the problems that bisexuals experience and the difficulties of gay policemen in Northern Ireland."

The book is currently available @ Lulu.com

The blurb for Mauk's book which is entitled Against The Walls reads...
The Northern Ireland Peace Process is rocked by a bomb on Derry’s Ferryquay Street, the weekend of the Protestant commemoration of the siege of that city. Behind the TV coverage and bland newspaper headlines, Against the Walls reveals the lives of nine people caught up in the bomb. We follow their histories, only passively aware of the political process that shadows their births, deaths, marriages and love affairs, trying to make some sense of human interaction, despite the pressures of an alienating world, love, hate and confusion through the streets of Derry, London and Detroit, people finding themselves crushed and disempowered.
Mark in his website describes his time in L/Derry
Working with communities torn apart by hatred and mutual suspicion, finding myself an unexpected spokesman for the city’s growing LGBT community, slamming poetry into outraged audiences in the Verbal Arts centre and elsewhere, producing a play about the lives of gay men in Derry, finding ourselves in dusty community halls, in crowds of Orange fury and guns.

 Mauk's book is available here...