Thursday, April 28, 2005

Oprah and contemporary authors

On April 20th an association of woman authors called WORD OF MOUTH delivered a letter to Oprah Winfrey pointing out the remarkable things her book club did for the reading public and books in general and urged her to consider enlarging the scope of her book club to include contemporary authors again. You can link to their site and read the letter in its entirety by clicking
  • Word of Mouth letter

  • To date no answer has been forthcoming, but these things take time.

    When I found out about this marvelous idea, I was so enthused I became a supporter of WOM's objective and signed on, too. However, in my opinion, this should just be the opening shot in the war to get more and more people reading books. Publishers and fiction authors writing in every genre must form more loose associations like the WOM association and work diligently to help readers rekindle the joy of reading and also help them find the kinds of books they like and would read.

    Currently, there are so many different forms of entertainment competing for our precious leisure time. As an author, I feel this same pressure. There are movies, TV, sports, socializing with family and friends, etc....all are in competition with books. Sometimes I ask myself, how can books--the oldest form of entertainment--survive in a world that requires instant gratification? I'm an avid watcher of reality shows, shows like Survivor, American Idol and lately The Amazing Race, though only because I desperately want Rob and Amber to lose. These shows cut into my reading time and provide nowhere near the same degree of satisfaction and stimulation. It's tantamount to the difference between eating processed breakfast cereals and slowly cooked oats--that's porridge where I come from. I actually will myself not to watch the telly for a few hours at night and, once I've committed and got into my book, I don't care anymore whether its droning on in the background. But it's hard to do this initially; it's just the same as going to the gym--I don't want to do it but know it's good for me.


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    Tuesday, April 26, 2005

    Luncheon with Judi Dench

    By chance, I just saw Judi Dench on the telly the other day. She was appearing on the Regis and Kelly Show--not a show I watch because I need to be at my desk by nine o'clock to assuage the smog of guilt that I should be already working--because she's got a new movie coming out that looks mighty interesting. It's called Ladies in Lavender, has Maggie Smith starring as well so how can it possibly go wrong, and is set in Cornwall, England, a place most Americans won't know is the only part of England that is actually Celtic. Isn't it ironic Camilla is the Duchess of Cornwall and hasn't a Celtic bone in her body?--of course, neither has Charles. Cornish people are not descended from the Anglo Saxons, are in fact part of the Celtic race, just like the Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Bretons and Austrians. In fact the last person to speak fluent Cornish died about forty years ago, though I believe its being revived.

    As Ms. Dench charmed her hosts, I thought, 'Thank God for mature British female actors and British and Irish films.' They're so much more superior to what Hollywood serves us and I'm pleased the Brits value their mature woman actors and don't put them on ice after a certain age until a film like On Golden Pond, comes along.

    Watching her brought back a memory of the Sunday afternoon I'd spend in the early nineties at her beautiful rambling home in Kent. It was one of those houses most Americans conjure in their minds when they think of a large English home--old, with a tudor facade and sagging roofline turned black against a cerulean sky, and acres of English garden, some parts mown and others left to grow wild. I didn't know her and had been invited by my friend Richard, an actor who'd starred with Judi, her deceased Irish husband and Susan Penhaligan in a comedy show that had ran for years and just ended. (All of them were gathered that day for a traditional English Sunday lunch, in this case roast lamb and all the trimmings.) She is one of the most delightful woman I've ever met, made me feel absolutely at home, engaged me in intelligent conversation, and I was amazed that her humor could be bawdy and wicked. I left starstruck and am not ashamed to admit it, though it wasn't anything to do with her fame, rather it was to do with her wit and humanity...and the fact that a quiet dignity and class oozed from her every pore.

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    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Out in the fields

    There's nothing quite like the sharp aroma and crackle of burning cedar on a warm Spring day. Yesterday, feeling I needed to get away from my desk and take in some country air, I slipped into my oldest jeans and T-shirt and went out to help Larry who's been clearing a piece of land as preparation to building a French country house. Larry's originally from NYC--a 'NY-Rican' is the term people use, he says--and he bought an old farm of about eighty acres out in Bucks a long time ago and moved here and has been carefully developing it himself because he didn't want any nasty MacMansions in the township. Each house sits on about five acres and they're very pretty, with high-pitched cedar shingle roofs and cream or champagne-colored stucco facades, and all have open-plan interiors with loads of space and high ceilings. In fact, we're living in one that's set into a wooded hillside. What's really exciting about the one he's preparing to build is that it will be constructed of fieldstone this time and, ever since I was a kid, I've wanted to live in a stonehouse.

    I spent the day lugging and pitching straggly cedars, Russian olives and wild rose bushes into a fire we'd built. Once, a gust of wind blew the flames and some nearby dry grass ignited. Larry laughed when he saw me shouting and stamping at the ground. He thinks I panic too easily and he's probably right because the Irish have made worrying into an art form. The work was bloody hard too, let me tell you (and I don't care much for physical graft, especially since my father used to drag me out--bitching I was dead lazy as he did so--to do every chore when I was a kid because I was the eldest) and my arms and legs are covered with scratches. But I loved every minute of the day. The cardinals and wrens chirped from elms and dogwoods in the near distance, our neighbor's chestnut and gray horses whinnied and snorted in their paddock on the other side of a hedgerow, and turkey vultures soared like tossed rags in secret air currents above. At lunchtime, I nipped to our local store--it's called WaWa, which is Lenape for 'goose' and brought back a tuna sandwich with roasted and sweet peppers--a favorite creation of ours that we invented because WaWa allows one to choose the sandwich 'sides'--and we sat on the tailgate of his truck and munched and drank in the sun.

    I do feel very sad that the Lenape aren't around anymore and feel this loss every time I come across a street name derived from Lenape such as Tinicum and Tochickon. Sometimes, I'll go into the local State park and stand on the bluff and look down to the river and, as I peer through the hazy blue air to the red, naked cliffs and serpentine river, it is easy to visualize the Lenape in their canoes fishing in that same water, their water and silent red cliffs now become our water and silent cliffs and one day to become someone else's because all things must pass.

    Anyway, the experience left me much fulfilled and I felt fortunate to be able to choose my own work and how to spend my day, fortunate not to have to answer to some faceless corporation or domineering boss, to be able to hear, smell and be part of nature. I'll do it again too, though I'll die hating manual grafting. Some things never change, and it matters not whether one lives in Ireland or in America, and I'm also sure my father will laugh and remember when he reads this.

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    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    Processing perceptions

    Yesterday was a gorgeous day in Doylestown--itself the county seat of Bucks County and one of the most beautiful towns both in terms of layout and architecture that I've discovered since coming to the US, and I was there to be interviewed by Joy Stocke, managing editor of the Bucks County Writer. We met at the local Starbucks that's set within a military barracks from the 1800s and replete with a wraparound verandah on the second floor.

    As she was conducting the interview, a chap who'd been sitting in a corner came up to our table, explained he had to go out and do something, and asked if we'd mind keeping an eye on his bag--a navy hold-all--until he returned. Both of us looked fleetingly at the bag and then back at the chap before Joy, whose got a very sunny smile, flashed it and warmly invited him to bring it over and set it at the feet of the table next to us. Of course, my Northern Ireland trait toward suspicion surfaced though I said nothing, not until the bag had been deposited and the chap was gone.

    As Joy fired her next question, I explained I was nervous about looking after a stranger's bag and 'what if...you know...it's got something inside?" (My aunt lost a great deal of her vision when a bomb went off near her shop when I was about ten.) Joy looked at me incredulously. Again, both of us regarded the hold-all, my ears straining simultaneously for the sound of a ticking clock--notwithstanding quartz clocks are probably used nowadays--and nose crinkling like a curious cat's for any trace of an ammonia or fertilizer-ish stench. Of course, Joy made a perfectly valid comment as to who'd want to do something horrid in sleepy Doylestown while my thought--and I admit it was politically incorrect--was that the man hadn't looked Arab, in fact with his dark hair and blue eyes looked somewhat Irish.

    After an additional five minutes, we opted to change tables, and moved some ten feet away from said bag, as if somehow that would improve our lot in the event it was indeed something nasty. At this point, I explained to Joy about an incident that had occurred while I was on my way back to my Hall of Residence with some friends after a law lecture in Cardiff. As we were walking along the main road, there was a loud bang and I fell upon the tarmac instinctively. None of my English friends did anything except look down strangely at my prostrate body. As it turned out, it was a car backfiring and they'd correctly assumed this was the reason for the noise. I, on the other hand, was primed to think 'explosion'. (Later though, English people, too, became suspicious of unattended packages and would not look after people's bags after bombs had gone off in London and other cities.)

    After ten minutes or so, my discomfit returned and I articulated this to Joy. She was quite amazed, said as an American it wouldn't have crossed her mind that anyone might try to plant a bomb, but I said I'd grown up with this threat in Northern Ireland and it was now etched permanently in my psyche. Also, 9/11 was on my mind. At that moment, the chap came back and we told him about our discussion and he said he'd just gone to do some photocopying, though why he hadn't taken his bag I don't really understand. Everyone laughed about it...and I was right because it turned out he was part Irish, part Scottish and part German.

    All in all, the incident left me keenly aware of how childhood practices carry through into adult life, how I react so very differently to Americans in such situations, and how I will always carry this Northern Irish fear and suspicion, this hangover from 'The Troubles.'

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    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Taking the pulse Electapope style

    As the conclave of cardinals are 'in session' to elect the next Pope, I thought I would share this letter with you. It was sent to the website
  • Electapope
  • where a Philadelphia canon lawyer explains most eruditely about the Vatican, the election process, and coronation of Popes. On the whole, the website appears aimed at pious RCs' and allies and there appears to be little or no room for dissension--which is a shame because it would have made the website truly valuable--but there you have it. One thing, she does also invite people to give their choice for the next Pope and explain why.

    Naturally, I wrote in to express my views as a Roman Catholic about the late John Paul II and to say I wanted a future Pope-I did not name a specific candidate--who would appeal to all Catholics, me included. It appears my letter was either not received (I did not get the usual fatal error message) or didn't pass muster. This is teh webmaster's prerogative. Anyway, here is the letter verbatim and, should you feel like emailing Ms. Dugan with your own suggestions as to whom the new Pope should be, I imagine she'd love to hear from you.

    Here's to white smoke and tolling bells.

    --------

    Att: Patricia Dugan, Esq.

    Dear Ms. Dugan,

    I heard and enjoyed listening to you on NPR yesterday. Like you, I am an attorney, Irish and Roman Catholic (though you're probably American-Irish) and was a guest last year on Marty Moss-Coane's Radio Times show where I discussed my life and novel, A SON CALLED GABRIEL. Like you, a beloved aunt had an audience with the late Pope and was enchanted by his wit and charisma. I also admired John Paul II, but I am
    also not afraid to criticize his papacy where I feel he was in absolute error because he was, like the members of his church, a fallible human being created by God. I listened to the discussion yesterday, have perused your website, and felt compelled to write and state something important.

    You declared on the radio that when it comes to choosing the next pontiff and his future papacy, there would be 'wiggle room' in some of the church's positions but not in others, one case of the latter being in relation to homosexuality. From your website's absolute silence on this important issue--and it is an important issue regardless of how uncomfortable that might be to acknowledge because it is not going
    away--I must assume that you consider it a sin and are opposed absolutely to it.

    Though homosexuals are created and loved by God every bit as much as Pope John Paul II was born white, Polish and also loved by Him, he overwhelmingly refused to recognize that homosexuals have civil rights--this being all the more ironic in that he set up camps in the mountains and forests of Poland so people could discuss political subversion, included statistically among these 'attendees' a number of
    homosexuals, I have no doubt.

    One central theme in my novel, A SON CALLED GABRIEL, concerns the absolute pain and terror a decent, well-bred, young Irish boy suffers growing up in a rigid Roman Catholic society that brooks no tolerance for a boy whom God created different. I repeat: a boy whom God created different. Certainly, his overwhelmingly religious parents did not make him gay. Neither did his siblings, neighbors or environment. God created him to express his sexuality every bit as much as any heterosexual and
    to find love with a person of the same sex. He did, because we are all God's creatures and He loves us unreservedly.

    I need hardly say that my novel contains an autobiographical element, is in fact what I refer to as fiction rooted in experience. Ms. Dugan, I do wish you would read my novel because I feel sure that a woman of your intellect and analytical skills would be enlightened about one part of the Roman Catholic flock, a part that has lost faith in the leadership because of its terrible hypocrisy so starkly illuminated by its failure to deal with members of the clergy who are pedophiles; in fact, at one
    point, most laughably, tried even to label them as homosexuals and extricate itself in that way, but was thwarted by sound reasoning and a highly suspicious church membership. (If you would like a copy of the novel, please let me know and I'll be delighted to have my publisher forward it.) I also wish priests and all the cardinals about to elect our next Pope would read the novel too, because I feel sure they'd be
    less inclined to judge and show the compassion and understanding which God requires them to show in the shepherding of His flock.

    We live in a modern age and the complexities and demands of modern life require progressive change within the church and its doctrine--all another conservative Pope will succeed in doing is drive away even more intelligent Catholics. I know the Catholic conservatives will scream 'no cafeteria Catholicism'. This is utter nonsense, a smoke screen. The church is organic and adapts its circumstances as required. It has been doing this since it was founded. I mean, attitudes change all the time. Would we accept a Pope today who fornicates with abandon as they did in
    the medieval ages? Would we have a Pope who sells indulgences to raise money for its coffers? I think not.

    In time, the uneducated populaces of Africa and Latin America--regions where the last Pope shrewdly spent a lot of energy and created abundant saints--will also become educated and modernized and will reject the discrimination and bigotry that exists in our church today. My hope is that the cardinals will make the correct and Godly decision while the Roman Catholic church still stands at the crossroads. I hope they will appoint a Pope to serve God and all his people. I am not optimistic,
    however.

    Finally, if you are serious about creating a meaningful dialogue as you say you are, I trust you will have the courage to post this essay verbatim on your website so that the issue can be aired and discussed fully.

    Sincerely,
    Damian McNicholl
    http://www.soncalledgabriel.com

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    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    Out and about in NYC and second novels

    Tuesday was a great day to be in NYC. The weather was crisp, people were still dressed in light coats and jackets, yet everywhere was the energy and promise of forthcoming summer. I lingered for a while in Times Square, right beside the ABC news studio where Charlie and Diane hold court, and watched the crew dismantling the stage where Mariah Carey had appeared to promote her latest album. (I didn't see her as I was on the way to catch the bus into the city while she was appearing.) What truly fascinated me is how compact and sophisticated the stage was. It was in the process of being 'dismantled' and looked like a giant white sea container, was mounted in the air with its large wheels on display, and the stage roof and floor--operated by hydraulics--lazily folded in on itself rather like a seagull's outstretched wings immediately after the bird has landed so that they formed the roof and walls of the container. After the hydraulics had finished this process, the wheels lowered to the ground and the unit was ready to be attached to a truck and driven off. All about me were stagehands stacking chairs and fitting lighting and speakers into boxes.

    At my publisher, I saw a mock-up of the new paperback cover for A Son Called Gabriel and am well-pleased. The original photograph of a young boy running along a wire fence remains on the front, together with the words "A Booksense Pick", and on its back are its literary award nominations and snippets and snippets of reviews from publications all over the country.

    Currently, I'm starting to think about shopping around my next novel Unusual Steps. It's what I refer to as a dark comedy, set in London, and has an offbeat plot and characters and thus is not like my first novel. The work I'm writing at the moment is set in the United States--my first work set in America--and its style is similar to Gabriel. My dilemma is, I don't know which one to choose as my follow-up novel--some reviewers and critics refer to second novels as 'sophomore novels'--and I'm really rather anxious about it. I like writing in both styles and am not interested in writing 'the same kind of story only different'--publishers like that because of the hook--and will have to rely on expert advice because I have no experience here.

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    Monday, April 11, 2005

    The taxman geteth

    Okay, so I'd procrastinated quite long enough, made an appointment with a tax specialist, and had my taxes prepared. Saturday morning was then established by her as D-day. I returned to her office at the appointed hour to discuss the completed forms and wanted to scream like a banshee as she went through them with me. Admittedly, it was satisfying to see "Writer" splashed within the appropriate boxes --I'd actually pondered whether to insert 'writer' or 'author,' but she'd settled the question by inserting the nomenclature without consulting me--because it made me legitimate. There it was on the forms for me, my adviser, and the IRS and State beanie counters to behold. I was published, earned royalties from my writings last year, and could now call myself a 'writer' without appearing pompous or affected. Of course, the sun-basked moment lasted exactly three seconds tops, because I still had to open my check book.

    Paying taxes makes a lot of people irritated. I'm not really an exception. My mind screams with fury as I smile simultaneously at the unknowing tax lady who's explaining the horrid minutiae. Actually, she probably does know her clients are cursing and seething inwardly because she's been doing this job for years. My feelings last only a few moments and then I get on with it, grab her pen and start writing the checks. Why? I choose to believe that the taxes collected will be used for the betterment of society, though I do wish we had better accountability because so many millions of dollars seem to be spent on pork-barrel projects. Only when we sit and write the checks in April do we feel real pain because we realize this is our own hard earned dollars that are leaving our bank accounts and heading for obscure government coffers. When the media point out the millions of dollars squandered by the government, we don't feel this pain for two reasons, I think:firstly, we've already discounted the loss during the first weeks of April, and secondly, the millions being spent belong now to the Federal and/or State government and we no longer view it as our money. I do think our attitudes need recalibrating here. We really do need a proper system in place to ensure our taxes are being spent wisely, to ensure they really are being used for the betterment of society. If such a system were in place, I would be happy to pay my share of taxes during tax season with incurring this pain. And I also think it would satisfy and silence those among us who bay for lower and lower taxes or no taxes at all.

    One thing she asked was whether I wanted to file the forms electronically. I declined immediately. I have no interest in my social security number floating unnecessarily in cyber space. Identity fraud is massively on the rise and corporations are not spending adequate funds to develop foolproof security systems--it's too expensive and not a profit center. On top of this, they're sending many processing jobs overseas, to India and other countries where there is cheap labor, and I did not give permission for my personal information to be accessible outside the United States. So old-fashioned snail-mail filing will do for me.

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    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    On the Pope and RC church

    One of my favorite aunts, Auntie Kathleen, once met the Pope. It was in Rome and she had an audience with him, something that was hugely thrilling for her, as it was for many Catholics. I remember her coming home and regaling my mother, bitching about the heat and how long it had taken to wait at the Vatican, but how it had all been worthwhile as 'Papa' looked her in the eye and smiled at her. Soon thereafter he visited Ireland and I was at home on vacation from law school or Germany--I can't quite recall--but I remember my sisters, Deirdre and Siobhan--setting out to a field somewhere where he was to celebrate mass. Even then, I wasn't stirred enough, unlike the majority of my fellow Catholic countrymen, to go off and see this novel creature, this first Polish pontiff. I was impressed he was coming to Ireland, but not sufficiently stirred. Sometimes, I wonder if my young self knew even then that this Pole, this man who'd lived under oppression and knew little of Western ways other than by reading and sojourns, this man whom people wished nothing more than to fall at his feet and adore, would not be a leader of all Catholics.

    Yes, he has died--I'm deliberately using that word because the term 'passing' is such a false euphemism--and he was a diligent, good and powerful man. Throughout his papacy, he had a keen interest in comforting the suffering, enthusing Catholics about their religion and its significance, and was instrumental in bringing to an end the domination of Eastern Europe by the Soviet regime among other things. Influence waning and his authority challenged in sophisticated Europe and North America, he proved himself a master politician and sought to shore up Roman Catholicism by 'courting' the peasantry in places like the Third World and Latin America. It is not by accident the high numbers of new saints created by him in these countries.

    But he was also only a human being, a human being who had prejudices and flaws like the rest of us. I find it laughable that, as conservatives in the Catholic church do so well at times such as these, there is a move to bestow the moinker John Paul II the Great, thus summoning to mind personages such as Alexander the Great (a man who had no problem with his homosexual facet), Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Laughable also, though with an undertow of uneasiness on my part, is their talk of his saintliness--read the beginning of a movement to seek his canonization. Soon will begin the hunt for the two miracles, and I can assure they will be found. Of that, there is not a shadow of a doubt.

    At the risk of pulling a 'Sinead O'Connor,' my Catholic conscience requires me to be honest and point out some of the flaws and failures of this Pope. We must not forget he was as autocratic and conservative as he was kind and enjoyed kissing babies. He was no friend of Vatican II, which sought to modernize the church, give Bishops more control of their local circumstances, and make the church more relevant to contemporary life. Throughout his Papacy, he made it clear there was no room for dissent and stated once that the Catholic Church was not a democracy.

    He has not helped women in any significant way, has consistently blocked their elevation to the priesthood at a time when the church needs fresh and intelligent minds amid its flock. He has refused to look at the question of unnatural celibacy and will not allow priests to marry; priests used to marry in the early church, so why not? Though homosexuals are created and loved by God every bit as much as the Pope was born white, Polish and also loved by Him, he has overwhelmingly refused to give us our due civil rights--this is all the more ironic in that he set up camps in the mountains and forests of Poland so people could discuss political subversion, included among these 'attendees' a number of homosexuals, I have no doubt. He refused to rout out pedophiles in the clergy. Why? Why did he not bring down the might of God and rout these despicable people out of his church? I do not understand his turning a blind eye at a moment when his power was most needed.

    As the cabal--again I use the word deliberately--of cardinals begin their secret meetings, (Why the need for secrecy, I ask?--in the name of God, get rid of this ancient rule and shine a bright light for all your flock to see) I hope they will choose a man who will lead the church into a bright and relevant future. I am not optimistic, especially since the late Pontiff chose the 114 scarlet-clad 'princes'. We live in a modern age and the complexities and demands of modern life require progressive change within the church and its doctrine--all another conservative Pope will succeed in doing is drive away even more intelligent Catholics. I know the Catholic conservatives will scream 'no cafetaria Catholicism' in the same pitch the Rev. Ian Paisley and his followers used to scream 'No Pope here' in Northern Ireland. This is utter nonsense, a smoke screen. The church is organic and adapts its circumstances as required. It's been doing that since it was founded. I mean, attitudes change all the time. Would we accept a Pope today who fornicates with abandon as they did in the medieval ages? Would we have a Pope who sells indulgences to raise money for its coffers? I think not.

    In time, the uneducated populaces of Africa and Latin America will also become educated and modernized and will reject the discrimination, bigotry and hypocrisy that exists in the church today. So make the correct and Godly decision now when the church still stands at the crossroads. Appoint a Pope to serve God and all his people, Roman Catholic and beyond.

    Tuesday, April 05, 2005

    The embalming question

    Just read a snippet on the web that, horror of horrors, the Pope has not been embalmed. He lying on his plush bier without having been stuffed to the gills with embalming fluid. (I shall have a little posting about the departed Papa on Thursday, but I couldn't resist the embalming issue.) It was simply too juicy. You see, my next novel Unusual Steps has a scene at a funeral parlor in the North of England where one of the characters--a meddlesome old lady--almost faints when a young girl starts to do an embalming procedure in her presence.

    Anyway, the fact is it is only in America that people are anal retentive about having every one who dies embalmed. Hygiene is the excuse cited. Of course, by everyone, I mean the people in the professional death business, and it's all to do with dollars and still more dollars. It is common knowledge that the human body can be put on display for a number of days without any such problems (or pox, if they could raise that as a scare tactic, I'm sure). For information on this, you are quite welcome to go into the PBS archives--thank God for PBS--and summon up a program they did on home funerals. Incidentally, more Americans are choosing to do home funerals, which is another disturbing reality the mega parlors don't want people to know about. Only in NY and one other state (I can't think which one) is it against the law to hold home funerals.

    In Northern Ireland, embalming takes place only in rare circumstances. Moreover, although funeral directors, handle the arrangements such as moving the body to and fro wherever it has to go, it is traditional for Catholic families to hold a wake for one evening at the deceased's home. The next evening the body is taken to the church where it lies until burial the next morning. This rule came into effect in the 70s and was introduced to save less wealthy people the associated costs--tea, sandwiches, cakes...oh, and a 'wee whisky or cordial'--of 'waking' for a second night at home. Protestants, on the other hand, tend to hold the wake at a funeral parlor. I feel the Catholic rule to be very prudent because, at the few wakes I've attended in Northern Ireland, I've observed mourners who come mostly for the craic (merriment and gossip) and would, as my darling late grandmother used to say, 'brazenly eat and drink people out of house and home.'

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    Friday, April 01, 2005

    Some book news

    This week has been a very busy one for me and I slide into the weekend on a delicious high note and just had to tell everyone. You see, I've just found out an hour ago that A Son Called Gabriel has been named as a finalist in the literary fiction category of the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards. This is in addition to its being a finalist in the Lambda Literary Awards. The winners of both awards will be announced to coincide with Book Expo America (the huge American Book show) which takes place this year in NYC on June 3-6.

    Co-incidentally, I will be reading from my novel at Book Expo America's Emerging Voices series on June 3rd (1p.m.) at the Jacob Javit's Convention Center. I am absolutely thrilled as you can imagine. Moreover, at the Lambda Literary Award finalist readings in Washington D.C. at the Goethe Institut on May 5th, I shall meet one of my favorite writers: Colm Toibin will be reading from his novel The Master, as it is also a finalist.

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