Tuesday 12 December 2017

My cultural life: author Henrietta McKervey

Henrietta McKervey's new novel, The Heart of Everything is out now. Photo: James Gould.
Henrietta McKervey's new novel, The Heart of Everything is out now. Photo: James Gould.

Henrietta McKervey's new novel The Heart of Everything is the story of three estranged adult siblings forced back together when their mother mysteriously disappears. It was described by Frank McGuinness as 'a wonderful, memorable book - a tour-de-force'. Her first book, What Becomes Of Us, is the story of a young woman and her life-changing encounter with a former member of Cumann na mBan, who, for 50 years, kept secret her involvement in the 1916 Rising. She is a winner of a Hennessy First Fiction Award, and the inaugural UCD Maeve Binchy Travel Award. Henrietta was born in Belfast and lives in Dublin. She is married with two children.

Art: Joy Gerrard

The RHA Annual Exhibition (no, it's not summer yet, the show opened early this year) is always a mixed bag, but that tension between new and traditional is exactly what makes it worth visiting. I particularly liked Joy Gerrard's Folded Triangle/Circle, one of the pieces shortlisted for a new RCSI 'healing art' award. Historically, the day artists went to the exhibition to put any finishing touches to their work was called 'Varnishing Day'. Wouldn't that make a great book title?

Book: The Silver Sword

I try not to have too many waiting-to-be-read books, because the piles can get a bit finger-waggy! My brother found our old copy of The Silver Sword by Ian Serralier recently, and I've just started it again (happily, which is a relief - as re-reading is always a risk with a book you loved as a child). I go back to Lorrie Moore regularly - Anagrams is such a smart and unusual short story-novel hybrid that I find something fresh in it every time.

Film: Charade

My favourite 'comfort movie' is 1963's Charade, starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. The most recent film I've seen is Room, and I found it as vital and disturbing as the book. It's unusual for me to like both equally - so many movies only distil the original book or else change it almost beyond recognition. However, films do that to each other too - in 2002, Charade was remade as The Truth About Charlie. Watching that one would be a big mistake.

Technology: Twitter

I love listening to the radio, but I wonder what I ever did for news before Twitter? Over the last few years, I've gone from vaguely glancing at it most days to checking it first and often. Too often, probably. The trick seems to be to follow a wide range of interests -my timeline used to be almost all writing/reading-related, which only reminded me (guiltily) of all the good books I should have been reading, rather than the tweets about them.

Gig: Rufus Wainwright

I expected to be first to get tickets for Rufus Wainwright (NCH, July 20) but, when I went online a nanosecond after opening time, quite a few people had already got there before me. (Got good seats though, so all is OK). He plays in Dublin regularly, and I've been a fan through all his various incarnations: pre and post-addiction; Judy Garland; the lederhosen; the do-not-applaud-it's-quiet-time-piano-only. Between his clever, intricate lyrics and that distinctive delivery, what's not to like?

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