Saturday 19 January 2019

My cultural life: Mia Gallagher

Mia Gallagher
Mia Gallagher
American Taliban
Crouching Tiger

Author Mia Gallagher lives in Inchicore near the Black Horse Luas stop with her husband, visual artist Sean Molloy. She is a box-set addict and a lover of excellent fiction.

Smartphone-free with no CD player, her main access to music is currently through Lyric FM. Her new collection of stories, Shift, will be published by New Island this spring. Head of Zeus will be bringing out the UK edition of her acclaimed second novel, Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland, in late summer. Her novel HellFire (Penguin, 2006), was awarded the Irish Tatler Literature Award 2007, while Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland (New Island, 2016) was longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness award. Mia has been writer-in-residence in many contexts, most recently in 2017 with Farmleigh. She is currently working on a new novel, funded by a Literature Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland.

Film: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Crouching Tiger

As a kid, my fantasy was to be a pirate, cat-burglar or knight, ideally in cross-dressing disguise. From Crouching Tiger's (above) first martial sequence, that slender thief dancing across moonlit roofs, I was hooked. As the story unfolded it got its claws into me. Only to rip them out at the end, and my heart with them. Ang Lee is a master of yearning. This piece is a huge, sad, delicate tango between irreconcilable things; love and obligation, youth and experience, art and war, homeland and empire.

Design: Luas Cross City

Okay, there's the Molesworth Street trees. And the delays. But I live in Inchicore and my dad's in Ranelagh. Before now, I'd cycle, or get a 68 bus to Kelly's Corner and walk. I'd rarely Luas it. That 15-minute hike from Jervis to Stephen's Green? Please. Now I slip off at Abbey, tail it round to Marlborough, and hop on. I feel weirdly decadent as I sit there, watching the landmarks of my life slide past -Screen Cinema, Trinity, Grafton Street, glamorous Dawson. The teething problems will settle. This is proper, grown-up public transport for a European city. Embrace it.

Song: David Bowie 'Heroes'


Recently I watched a brilliant TV documentary about the Hansa Studios in Berlin. Bowie recorded 'Heroes' (above) there, so they had footage and stories. And, dominating everything else, the magnificent opening chords to this glorious song. A wall of guitar-and-synth bleeding like fresh steak. Rising over it, that voice. Warm, defiant, fragile, human, immortal. I was too young for Heroes when it came out, but at 14, I made Bowie my god. Those chords, that voice.

Artist: Clare Henderson

Normally I go for bold, guts-on-the-canvas paintings (Bacon, Hughie O'Donoghue) but Clare's gem and etching, At least fail while daring greatly, oozes a different kind of soul. It shows a brave little line of penguins trudging through a lonely monochrome landscape.

Book: American Taliban

American Taliban

I just finished this terrific novel (above) by Pearl Abraham. Set just before and after 9/11, it's the story of John Jude Parish, a beguiling surfer-skater dude who finds himself drawn through Sufi mysticism into Islam. I loved it: JJ's skater-cool language, his liberal family, his surfer pals, the young Muslims he meets on his path. How Abraham manages to make his journey so creepy but so exhilarating, combining a page-turning plot with serious meditations on the nature of being, dying and becoming- it blew my mind.

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