Saturday 24 March 2018

My cultural life: writer Ita Daly

Novelist Ita Daly
Novelist Ita Daly
Red Rock
Las Meninas

Ita Daly is a writer, born in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim. A former teacher, she has published novels, short stories and books for children. Novels include Unholy Ghosts, All Fall Down, and Dangerous Fictions. Her most recent work is a memoir of her late husband, the writer David Marcus, entitled I'll Drop You a Line: A Life with David Marcus. She is a member of Aosdana.

Book: The Human Stain

One of my favourite books is The Human Stain by Philip Roth. It is set in the 1990s in a small New England college and tells the story of a retired academic, Coleman Silk who has been forced to resign because he is accused of racism by two African-American students. It turns out that Silk is in fact African-American himself but has hidden his identity and passed himself off as Jewish. The book deals with racism, identity, infighting in academia, sex and ageing. It is complex, riveting, funny, moving - in other words, vintage Roth.

TV: Red Rock

Red Rock

How did I miss Red Rock the first time round? It is being shown on the BBC and I dropped into it by accident, got hooked and now I am watching it on daytime TV, my shameful secret.

It is so well done: wonderful acting, amazing plot lines, totally believable characters. We could always do high culture here but now we are excelling at popular culture too. I never realised that An Garda Siochana are such an exciting bunch.

Painting: Las Meninas

Las Meninas

Las Meninas was painted by Velazquez in the 17th century and hangs in the Prado in Madrid. There are nine figures in the painting - the Infanta Margaret Theresa is standing in the middle and immediately draws our eyes. She is attended by her maids of honour - las Meninas - two dwarves, a chaperone, a bodyguard and a large dog. Behind her stands Velazquez, painting two figures that we see reflected in a mirror at the back of the room, the Infanta's parents, the King and Queen of Spain. It is a magical and mysterious painting, tremendously still. The painter has his brush held aloft, the figures look towards us or at one another, the dwarves seem sinister, at least to our modern eye. What is Velazquez telling us? We will never know but every time I look at the painting it seems to be telling me a different story.

Music: Mozart


The second movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto in D Minor was something my husband played over and over again. I do not love music as much as he did but Mozart is wonderful, even to the untutored ear. Now I listen to this piece and memories come flooding back.

Film: Some Like It Hot

A film that I love above all others and that I watch again and again is Some Like It Hot. This 1950s Billy Wilder film is surely one of the greatest comedies of all time. Escaping from the Mafia because of something they have witnessed, musicians Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis, dress up as women and join an all-female band. They befriend the singer-with-a-drink problem, Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) and the whole romp is delicious. Jack Lemon is truly wonderful as Josephine and Tony Curtis has two aliases - one as Daphne and the other as Shell Oil Junior which he uses when he is trying to seduce Sugar.

I'll Drop You a Line: A Life with David Marcus, by Ita Daly, is published by Londubh Books.

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