So … I had a thing planned for today, but it didn’t work. So instead I’m just going to post something real quick.
I love Ireland. I’ve been wanting to go there for almost half my life. (That makes me sound terrifyingly old.) (“terrifyingly” is a word? English language, you are so weird. Anyway.) I blame Nora Roberts; about 15% of her entire body of work is either set in Ireland, or features a predominantly Irish character. To sooth the inner, and possibly outer, hipster, I’ll add that I’ve also read The Princes of Ireland, by Edward Rutherford. I don’t think I’ve read The Rebels of Ireland, though, and I probably should. I probably should re-read the Princes as well.
I also love listening to Irish folk music, and I started collecting albums right around the time I started reading Nora Roberts. Add that to all the photos in Google images, and, well … I’m going there someday. It might not be like the pictures or the books or the songs (in fact I strongly suspect it won’t be) but I’ll see for myself how different it is. Someday.
I had a bit of a challenge finding a book for this Irish week I’ve created for myself. I wanted a book written by an Irish author, and set in Ireland, and one that I could read in a few weeks, keeping in mind that I’m working full time, which left out Ulysses, and that’s was the only Ireland-set, Irish author book I own. Thankfully, I remembered another author, one I used to have on my shelves (I loaned the book out and never saw it again): Maeve Binchy. I went to the library, and thankfully, they had one on the shelves: A Week in Winter.
A Week in Winter is ostensibly the story of a woman who opens an inn in her small Irish town, and of her first week in business. (I’ll let you guess the season.) It’s more a study of various character then a novel; when I think “novel”, I think “single narrative”, and this didn’t have it. Instead, each chapter told the story of one character, starting in their teenage years, if not in their childhood, and going up to a certain point in time, then the next chapter would go a little further in time, until the book ends, at the end of the week. This means that the strength of the story relied entirely on the characters, which are, for the most part, interesting and even likable in some cases. But even the unlikable characters make for a good read, and that takes talent.
The only downside, and I’ll admit it’s a serious point, was the end of the book. The last two chapters, to be precise. Up until that point, it had been made clear that the stories of the characters only loosely connected to each other, but with those last two chapters, it felt like the author was trying to bring everything back into one narrative, and tie it up in a neat little bow. The last chapter especially gave the impression that she was trying to give each character a magic happily ever after, and since the end point of each chapter already ended the character’s journey on a high note, that last chapter was overkill, in my opinion.
I still enjoyed the book, overall, and recommend it to everyone who wants several good examples of how you set up a character and tell its story in one chapter.
Last year, around Easter time, I took a trip to New York city, mainly to go see Wicked. It was an organized trip, and so a lot of my time was regimented. I’m going back this year, and I’m going to do the things I want to do, and I includes seeing more shows.
I thought it might be nice, while I was there, to see a straight play. Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love musicals, but I also really like to see plays, when I get the chance. I did some research, and I found this show: Outside Mullingar, by John Patrick Shanley. The title grabbed my attention, mostly because it reminded me of one of my favorite songs.
Here is the description from the official website:
Tony winner Brían F. O’Byrne (Frozen, Doubt, Million Dollar Baby) and Emmy® winner Debra Messing (“Will & Grace,” “Smash,” Collected Stories) play Anthony and Rosemary, two introverted misfits straddling 40. Anthony has spent his entire life on a cattle farm in rural Ireland, a state of affairs that—due to his painful shyness—suits him well. Rosemary lives right next door, determined to have him, watching the years slip away. With Anthony’s father threatening to disinherit him and a land feud simmering between their families, Rosemary has every reason to fear romantic catastrophe. But then, in this very Irish story with a surprising depth of poetic passion, these yearning, eccentric souls fight their way towards solid ground and some kind of happiness. Their journey is heartbreaking, funny as hell, and ultimately deeply moving.
It sounded right up my alley. I got really excited about seeing this play.
It closed yesterday. I’m not going to New York for another month.
So of course, what could I do but buy an e-version of the play and get even more frustrated at what I was missing? I really, really liked the script, it’s very clever, even if it does go on some weird tangents the way modern theater tends to. I’ve seen weirder. And how much of a bummer is it that I won’t get to see the play, to see professional actors reading the lines on a stage? Reading a play is not the same as watching one, I should know, I’ve done plenty of both.
ps: would anyone believe me if I said that, when I planned and drafted and scheduled this post, I didn’t realize that it would get published on St-Patrick’s day? Because that’s just an amazing coincidence. I’m thinking about making all my posts this week Irish themed, in celebration.