I am an unabashed fan of learned old men having conversations about stuffy subjects, though microphone hogging makes me deeply uncomfortable. This one might be the gold-standard, with Roy Foster speaking on his book Vivid Faces indebtedness to the novel form, Colm Tóibín’s indebtedness to the craft of the historian, with Fintan O’Toole directing it all.
A lecture delivered by Colm Tóibín which paints a picture of the historical background from which the vivid faces of the Easter Rising emerged; with particular focus on Padraig Pearse, his poetry, his religious beliefs and how his pedagogical theories relate to his nationalism.
Colm Tóibín’s always nice to listen to. Here he is talking Enniscorthy folklore, the making of Brooklyn and the sixteen-year gestation period of his most recent novel, Nora Webster.
Colm Tóibín in the London Review of Books bookshop, discussing the poetry and life of Elizabeth Bishop, with reference to his book on the poet with Ruth Padel. Great readings, good insights and inappropriate laughter in the background. It has everything.
Colm Tóibín giving a great reading of a quiet, competent and occasionally powerful short story by Eugene McCabe on the Guardian short stories podcast, which, apart from the musical intros, was nice while it lasted.
Colm Tóibín being interviewed is always nice to listen to, and fortunately, he was on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 at the start of the year, talking about how novel writing is sustained by little details rather than big ideas, how he doesn’t enjoy writing and how he’d nearly bring a scissors on the desert island. Annoyingly, he forgets to explain why and the show ends. If you see him, ask him for me please.
I saw Kevin Barry read the first few pages of his novel Beatlebone at Imagining Home: The Literary Imagination. It was one of the better readings I’ve ever seen, not that the evening was short of them, with Anne Enright reading from the climax of The Green Road, Colm Tóibín from The Heather Blazing and John Banville from a biography of Roger Casement. Nevertheless, Barry’s selection was the one most easily categorised as a performance; he do the police in different voices. So I was happy when I saw that Barry read a Brian Friel short story for the New Yorker Fiction podcast. It, it meaning the story, Barry’s performance and the post-story discussion, is very good.
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Tagged Anne Enright, Beatlebone, Brian Friel, Colm Tóibín, Deborah Treisman, Imagining Home, John banville, Kevin Barry, The Green Road, The Heather Blazing, The New Yorker, The Saucer of Larks