Entertainment Books

Monday 26 August 2019

My cultural life: novelist Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry
Sebastian Barry
Montpelier Parade
Manchester by the Sea
Spiral 2

Sebastian Barry is a playwright, novelist and poet. He has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and in January 2017 he was awarded the Costa Book of the Year for Days Without End, the first novelist to win the prestigious prize twice. Barry grew up in Monkstown and now lives in Co Wicklow with his wife Alison. They have three children, Coral, Merlin and Toby. He will appear at the Hinterland Festival in Kells, Co Meath, next Sunday at 3.30pm in the Kells Theatre, in conversation with Myles Dungan.

Film: Manchester By The Sea

Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck (pictured, with Michelle Williams) would be for me the best film actor of his generation. I loved his work in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. He played the coward in a manner that might give cowardice a good name. In this film be brings his taciturn playing style to wonderful new depths of inarticulacy and brooding silence. His face is a dictionary of sorrow.

Design: Maynooth College Campus

My son is studying at Maynooth and when I've gone down to see him I've been impressed by the quality of the newer buildings there. They are certainly making a great effort to create a true campus. The first harbinger of this sort of commitment was the new library at Trinity College, built in the old Fellows' Garden (where do they walk now?). It was like a wonderful lump of something out of ROSC, an exhibition that brought some of the more wondrously challenging modern art to Dublin in the 1970s.

Book: Montpelier Parade

Montpelier Parade

Just at the moment I am reading a delicate, crystalline, hugely impressive novel by Karl Geary entitled Montpelier Parade. He's yet another masterful younger writer coming through. But these writers aren't just promising, they are arriving fully fledged, like a bunch of Hemingways and Waughs. (A pride of Hemingways?) This is language on the side of life, suggesting life, giving life. Wonderful.

Artist: Vivienne Roche

I love Vivienne Roche's tall, strange upside down bells/wells in bronze on the pavement outside St Patrick's Cathedral. They're so beautifully made and conceived and they float there, free of the heavy stuff they're made of, like souls heading upwards. We haven't a huge tradition of sculpture in Ireland, but in her work there is something of the pre-Christian spirit, wedded to a world-class modern sensibility.

TV: Spiral

Spiral 2

I am, like many hundreds of thousands, waiting for the makers to get a move on and finish the new series of Spiral (above), the devious, fierce, violent, gentle French detective series. Surely someday it will arrive. I could say the same about Wallander except in the great Swedish version he seems to have tragically run out of road. As a person that can remember a time when no actor of quality would dream of doing TV, and few writers of quality, it has been astonishing to witness this brave new age of television.


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