Book Reviews

Book Reviews – The House on Parkgate Street by Christine Dwyer Hickey and New Planet Cabaret

Draft Two

The House on Parkgate Street and other Dublin stories – Christine Dwyer Hickey

The House on Parkgate Street and other Dublin stories tells of Dublin through the ages. Written by award winning novelist Christine Dwyer Hickey who has been short-listed for the Hughes and Hughes Irish Novel of the Year and long listed for the Orange Prize for literature. She has twice been the winner of the Listowel Writers Week short story competition and her most recent novel “The Cold Eye of Heaven” won the Kerry Novel of the Year Award at Listowel in 2012. In this selection of short stories set in different eras in Dublin and told through the voices of young and old, different facets of society are explored. The Indian taxi driver who is living out of his car, the child who cannot speak of her abuse at the hands of the lodger for fear of ruining her sisters wedding and losing her mothers precious income, a young girl watching prostitutes from her bedroom window.

Some stories are very haunting, like Windows of Eyes, in which a young school girl appears to be considering running away from home in modern day Dublin or La Straniera where a family take in their niece who at first appears free spirited but then it emerges that she is suffering with her mental health. By choosing to write about Dublin at different stages, Ms Dwyer Hickey can explore the changing social mores and values that Irish society has gone through over time. Ms Dwyer Hickey is a real talent and this would make an excellent gift for anyone interested in moving and brilliantly observed prose.

Available from New Island.

new-planet-cabaretNew Irish Writing – New Planet Cabaret – Edited by Dave Lordan

I remember my father owning a classic anthology of Irish short stories when I was a child. Many of the stories contained within were old intermediate and leaving cert standards, my favourite:Frank O’Connors Guests of the Nation. These classic stories told of Ireland going through a great change, a terrible struggle. The stories contained in New Planet Cabaret also explore an Ireland going through a struggle: recession, a war on drugs., repossession. A land more represented by Love/Hate than The Commitments. New Planet Cabaret is a collection of 17 stories, poems and rap lyrics entered into the first on- air creative writing course started by RTE One’s Arena radio show and New Island publishers. Accompanying these pieces are commissioned pieces from new and emerging Irish writers. It is a fantastic spring board for these amateur and professional writers to grab the main-stage and have their work published together. The stories are very short- running between 2 to 3 pages long and therefore becomes a perfect anthology to dip in and out of. It is a great discipline for the writer to be able to tell a fully rounded story in so little words and two stories that really stayed with me were Chloe by Michael Naghten Shanks and The Manhattan Cycle by Rob Doyle. Chloe will resonate with anyone who has ever disapproved of a friend’s new relationship and The Manhattan Cycle tells of a chain of events set off when a woman finds a collection of videos her late husband made.

Available from New Island website

Reviews by Lesley-Ann Whelan


Categories: Book Reviews, Books

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