Tuesday, June 13, 2006

At Shop, Too Hard

[Irish Ammature Spelling Society strikes again]

My B&B is only 10 minutes' walk from St Stephen's Green in the heart of Dublin city. We strolled in, in contrast to my first visit 9 years ago when I had gotten off a Sydney-Bangkok-Heathrow-Dublin rollercoaster with non-reclining seats, and was handed a dodgy bicycle by Vance and told to follow his Nimbus 1997 down the bumpy streets from Rathmines. In the intervening period, it seems to have become more like one of many English high streets. Even the Temple Bar area seemed rather devoid of life when I crossed it mid-afternoon.

In a music store, I found the sheet music to Micheal O Suilleabhain's Woodbrook, which is apparently the only music he's published. I find that curious, since an interview indicated he was trying to develop/espouse an Irish piano style, and surely that excercise might be helped by published music with didactic markings, as exemplified by Percy Grainger's manuscripts. He has also written:

"Classical music, fascinates me, for all sorts of reasons, chiefly because it's writen. Once you begin to write down the notes it allows a freedom , players are no longer restricted by their memories, and of course group work becomes more complex. Then there's the strangeness of reading the music, I don't know what it is , how it affects the brain, but once you read as well as hear it, the music changes."
We had lunch with Vance, and then I went to look for a copy of Flann O'Brien's The Poor Mouth. This month, Dublin City council is promoting a One City, One Book initiative similar to that held in Seattle and other cities. For May-June, it's O'Brien's first book At Swim, Two Birds. Curiously, none of the bookstores I went into (Easons, Hanna's, Waterstones, Hodges Figgis, ... ] had more than 2 O'Brien titles outside the promoted title. One "bookseller" said they never stock more than a couple of his titles, and anyway only one is being promoted(!?). I asked what happens when people want to read more of his works because of this promotion, but she just gave me a dirty look and turned around. You can see they barely have space in these enormous multi-storey bookshops to keep comprehensive selections of Irish literature when they have tables groaning with Danielle Steel et al. I didn't check to see if they kept token copies of Joyce and Beckett (or Wilde and Swift).

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