Always playing catch-up – that’s me! There are so many wonderful books in the world and any visit to a bookshop means adding more to the stack that’s already beside my bed but that’s okay. It’s always good to have a selection to hand when spare minutes present themselves and reading anything is never lost on the wind. It feeds into the system and nourishes the soul.
Somehow hard copies of books still win out with me, however. While e-readers have their place (and I do have one) I still love the smell and feel of real paper and the joy of keeping my very favourite hard copies on my ‘treasure’ shelf.
What to read next? How does anyone make that decision? It’s often whatever way the mood takes me. Someone once said that the book you need to read presents itself when you need it. I’ve found that happening often.
Over Christmas two of the books I read were Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These and A Man With A Van by Drew Pritchard.
I also came across an excellent article about writing in Irish Country Magazine entitled Do The Write Thing by Niamh Ennis. It’s for anyone out there who is thinking of making a start on writing a novel and in need of a bit of encouragement and inspiration to do so. It’s worth reading.
Beyond the spires of New Ross
Claire Keegan’s long awaited new novel was a Christmas gift and Christmas Day joy which involved turning off the television and reading it aloud before and after a beautiful lunch at our daughter’s house.
The story is set in the days before Christmas so it felt entirely appropriate. It is set in New Ross, a town in Wexford, which made it even more relatable for someone who lives in County Wexford but, of course, the theme rises high above and beyond the steeples of that town. It’s about a coalman and his love for his family and his encounter with the convent up the hill and what went on there. As always, her book is short but mighty, beautifully written, pared back, essentials only text that brings each character wonderfully to life.
I won’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment by telling too much of the story but what I took from it is that all the little, kind, everyday things that we may do in life for others that we don’t even think about can add up over the years to making a very great difference in the lives of others.
‘Cars hanging from the sky’
I like old things and people who like old things which is probably why I like watching Salvage Hunters, a programme that features antique dealer and architectural salvage expert Drew Pritchard.
I’m always curious, too, about how people get into the business they are in and the childhood obsessions that lead to their careers. I can remember being drawn to blank sheets of paper (even the back of rolls of left-over wallpaper), the smell of them, the feel of them, the potential of them, when I was a child – and I still am.
Drew Pritchard was collecting scrap and selling it from a very young age and there is the most amazing image mentioned at the beginning of the book (which is very well written). It’s one of ‘cars hanging from the sky’ – ‘cars, loads of them, ancient rusty relics, seemed to be hanging in mid-air like ghosts of what they’d been’.
I won’t spoil the story by telling you more but it’s an image that explains a lot and goes right back to when he was aged eight and his fascination with old things began.
Reading the book, it was obvious that he has had his ups and downs (and television fame probably led to some of that). While he may have started out as a ‘man with a van’ and a chap who didn’t like school, educating himself year upon year and ‘finding beauty in things that others saw as worthless junk’ means that he is now much more than that – an antique dealer, something it took him a long time to have the confidence to call himself.
Remember the ‘why’
The reminders I took from the Do The Write Thing article in Irish Country Magazine included setting yourself targets and deadlines for finishing a writing project and always keeping the ‘why’ you want to write this particular poem or story or whatever ‘front and centre when moving through the work’. It’s good advice and I’d better bear the ‘setting yourself deadlines’ bit in mind now and finish the novel synopsis that I said I would tackle today. It won’t get done if I don’t get on with it:)
Until next time