It doesn’t take much to excite me so when I say that this book has done that, it may not have the impact that I intend. I can only say this is an exceptional novel and that it really really really excites me.Beatlebone is about John Lennon and his fictional quest to revisit his actual island in Ireland. John Lennon owned a very small island there and visited it only a few times. Kevin Barry imagines what might have happened if John had gone back in 1978 on a sort of spiritual quest. John’s mantra is that he just wants to “get to his island,” but there are a slew of obstacles and false paths he must overcome before he can get there and get back. Believing himself too happy and thus unable to write, John wants to get to that uninhabited island, Scream his guts out, and return inspired.
The novel is strange and experimental, something that has earned Kevin Barry the Goldsmiths prize for original literature. But, as he himself has said at several of his readings, the novel is also a variation on a classic theme. John Lennon and his guide Cornelius O’Grady are ultimately playing out a variation of Don Quixote, riding around in a Mercedes and tilting at their own windmills. Barry has spoken many times about his belief that the novel form should be used for experimentation, something evident in his City of Bohane, which I reviewed earlier in the year. This novel is not like anything else you will read this year; it is wholly unique. No knowledge about John Lennon or the Beatles is required but if you are a fan of either or both, this will surely appeal to you. Contemporary Irish writing is in a sort of golden age right now. Everything I recommend these days seems to come from that corner of the world and this addition to it is well worth the read. I give it my highest recommendation and I hope you pick up a copy soon. Happy Monday! Nothing makes a Monday better than a good book 🙂
Thanksgiving is fast approaching so I decided to try and get some family time in before this wonderful holiday is swallowed by rampant consumerism. My mom came up for the weekend and we tore up the town. Well, we tore up the town in a very Kathleen-approved way. First, we went and got some crepes at Paris.We moseyed on down to my new favorite coffee shop, 4A, and grabbed some of the best coffee in Boston. Without a doubt this is the best coffee I have had since I became aware that coffee was necessary to my continued health and happiness.
We hit the Booksmith, grabbed some Irish History…Then hit up Newbury Street for some really necessary dress purchases…Everyone needs a Scottish tweed dress right? I can wander onto the set of Outlander at any point now. We next went to the MFA, where we tried to shotgun as much of it as possible before it closed. The new special exhibition there is a pretty fantastic survey of Dutch painting in the time of Rembrandt and Vermeer. The Vermeers are, of course, exquisite. The exhibit is well-curated and informative and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a reason to head to the MFA. On Sunday we went to Russell House Tavern and ate what has been described to me as the best burger in Cambridge. It came on an English muffin and was smokey and delicious. After some pick-me-up lattes we went to the Harvard Museums.Exquisite, of course. Add to all this a night of bingeing John Oliver episodes and it was a pretty freaking great weekend. This should, of course, be a time of family love and togetherness and I am happy to have had a weekend of that.
I have the good fortune to have maintained my literary contacts at Boston College, something that often leads me to books I would have missed otherwise. Such is the case with Skippy Dies, a near-perfect and heartrendingly poignant book by Irish author Paul Murray.I started this book the morning after meeting the author himself. He came to BC to give a reading from his new book, The Mark and the Void, and stayed to attend my favorite book group- Raidin the Wake. I might have mentioned it before but it deserves more than a mention. We read Finnegans Wake once a week, slogging through a few lovely pages and trying to glean some meaning from the possibly indecipherable pages. Paul Murray joined us for a session and drank with us at the pub afterward. But more to the point, Skippy Dies is a fantastic novel. It is about the death of the main character, something the reader is well aware is going to happen even before he or she reads a single page. The novel chronicles the adventures in love, loss, speed, bungee jumping, World War I, school administration, and more of Skippy, Ruprecht, and Lori, exploring what happens to a whole community when one person dies tragically. It is also really funny, in case that wasn’t coming through.
His new novel just came out and should be arriving at my door by Friday- so look forward to a glowing review of that as well. Check this one out. Not only will it give you hipster Irish-lit cred, it will also give you the feels.
I have never made a pie before. But you know what’s great about a pie? For all the fancy recipes you can find online with multiple steps and special dicing techniques the main idea is to throw all your ingredients together in a pan, slap some dough over the top, and stick it in the oven. Out of this philosophy Kathleen’s Messy Apple Pie was born.
Get yourself some apples. Mine were just about to go bad, which is what inspired my last ditch pie efforts, so they were pretty soft. If this is the case you will soon realize, as I did, that cutting nice even slices is not really going to be a workable option.
Cut up your pieces roughly the same size. I ended up with lots of chunks and weird bits (and it all turned out fine). Put the bottom layer of your pie crust down- I bought mine at Trader Joe’s because this is a messy heathen pie. Throw down a layer of apple bits and then mix some cinnamon and sugar together and liberally sprinkle/dump it on top of your apples. Repeat this for another two layers. Put as much as you want in. I used a LOT of cinnamon because I am a bit of an addict. When everything is in but about a tablespoon of butter cut up into little bits all over the top layer of your pie.Put the top layer of your crust on. Pro-tip: unroll it before you defrost it or it will fall apart once it is warm and pliable. And then it will be super messy, like mine. Stick it in a 450 degree oven for ten minutes then adjust the temp to 350 and bake for 30 minutes more.Then you need to eat this glorious mess because it is so so good. It tastes exactly like it should- a gooey appley cinnamoney confection. It might make Martha Stewart faint but, to me, it was perfect. No measuring, no stress. :
Now enjoy while the Royals win the World Series 😉