Sunday 24 September 2017

Radio: As usual, Banville dismantles his reputation as a dry, dusty litterateur

Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

'Books have mattered more to me than most people" – a quote from Liz Gilbert in The Book Show (Radio 1), and us bibliophiles will have found ourselves nodding in agreement.

The programme, presented by Sinead Gleeson and produced by Zoe Comyns, was centred on a long piece about Maeve Brennan, the Irish woman who wowed New York high society but ended her days in loneliness and regret. Her background, life, writing and worldview were explored, and there was a sweet, poignant contribution from actor Eamon Morrissey, who met Brennan and even lived in the same house.

It wasn't all heavy going though. A segment about Football Type, a new book on the typography of football shirts by graphic designer Rick Banks, was fun and entertaining.

There was a good debate about Irish fiction inspired by the boom and bust. I hate books about "current events" – that's the realm of journalism for me, not fiction – but Anne Marie Hourihane and Peter Murphy were informed and interesting.

This 26-part series runs from November 23. And what a treat book-lovers have in store, if this hour-long special was anything to go by.

We're already being spoiled over on Newstalk, by Sue Cahill's Talking Books. The latest show interviewed Buddha in the Attic author Julie Otsuka, and visited John Banville's writing room.

As usual, he dismantled his reputation as a dry, dusty litterateur with a performance that was by turns witty, boisterous, surprising and even a little strange. It's funny: Banville the man has always been infinitely more interesting to me than his books.

Descending through several circles of hell now, to Dave Fanning's (2fm) interview with a burlesque performer called Dominique DiVine, who had that quasi-American, barely-Irish accent that makes it impossible to figure out where she's from. It was the usual rubbish burlesque "artists" deliver: ridiculous, cod-grandiose claims made for what used to be known as stripping, except it now has a fancy, French-sounding name. I couldn't care less if people enjoy exhibitionism, but let's call a spade a spade.

Finally, a warm welcome back to John Murray (Radio 1), after a lengthy battle with depression: an insidious illness and invidious position to be in. All good wishes to this very affable man.

dmcmanus@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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