Thursday 19 July 2018

Rage-In: Tara Flynn's Raging with our Septic Isle

Non-Fiction: Rage-In, Tara Flynn, Mercier Press, €14.99

Best-selling author Tara Flynn's 'Rage-In' is a wonderful collection of essays providing a personal look at our modern world
Best-selling author Tara Flynn's 'Rage-In' is a wonderful collection of essays providing a personal look at our modern world

Anne Cunningham

This collection of pieces (featuring much more than rage, by the way) has materialised mostly as a result of Tara Flynn's regular column for Headstuff.org, a website describing itself as a "collaborative hub for the creative and the curious".

Some additions have been made, too, but this book went to press before Referendum Day and so - already - many of Flynn's anxieties about the possibility of a win for the anti-choicers now read like, well, yesterday's news.

What's ongoing, though, is the book's subtitle, The Trolls and Tribulations of Modern Life. She continues to be verbally assaulted by some sore (and very sick) losers on the 'No' side, to the extent that she's recently shut down her Twitter account.

There is, however, a lot more to Tara Flynn than being a tireless heroine for Repeal. This is her third book, her previous two books You're Grand: The Irish Woman's Secret Guide to Life and Giving Out Yards: The Art of Complaint Irish Style were well received and are bound to enjoy another surge in the wake of Rage-In.

Flynn is a founding member of The Nualas (a distinctly Irish version of Fascinating Aida) and is an actor, stand-up comedian and writer.

Like most of our fine theatre talent, she's done her London years and decided in 2011 to finally settle back in the Oul' Sod.

But there's a lot about the Oul' Sod that's bothering her.

These short essays have been corralled into six sections, bearing such umbrella titles as "The Shitness", "Repeal the Inequality", "Trolling the Web" and "Faith(less)". And, while she's practically frothing at the mouth about many shameful issues, here and worldwide - climate change, the rise of the Far Right, Donald Trump, rudeness, the Catholic church, feminism, racism, Eamon de Valera, direct provision - she's fired with acid wit and a true satirist's taste for the ridiculous. So, although her anger is palpable, it's also very entertaining.

The internet phenomenon of the keyboard warrior is a recurring target for Flynn's vented spleen, understandably so when you read some of the tweets she's received, most especially during the referendum campaign.

It's not that she's afraid of these cowards, but it's their collective wells of hate, boiling cauldrons of vile superiority, that make her anxious, and that anxiety, whether veiled in mirth or delivered straight, direct and mirth-free, is like a recurring leitmotif.

Between those anxious moments, though, there's much fun to be had, very often at the author's expense. Her account of a visit to the "torture chamber" for a leg wax is laugh-out-loud stuff.

Her depiction of her persistent fear of flying in "Air Rage-In" is brilliant. Convinced she's going to die on every flight she takes, she's aghast at the behaviour of some of her fellow travellers.

"And I don't want my last view to be of someone foosthering about with a bag that clearly wouldn't fit in an overhead locker if you unpacked it completely and then sawed it in half.

"I want my final thoughts to be compassionate, friendly ones, not 'You people? I'm going to die with you people?' Cabin pressure, indeed."

Anyone who's read Caitlin Moran's Moranifesto will find similar themes in Rage-In: the disease of patriarchy, the de-humanising of ethnic groups and, indeed, migrants as a whole, the horrendous damage done in the name of someone's God, the lack of courage in the media, but just as Moran writes from a particularly British slant, Flynn sees the Irish perspective. The "grimness", as she calls it. "We have a great, big, green carpet that we roll over anything unsavoury and we hope the lumps won't show us up.

"But they always do, because they never actually go anywhere."

This is a book about the lumps that never actually go anywhere.

And it's a cracking read.

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