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We need some words of hope in this time of crisis. The words of President Kennedy do that. They are filled with hope, “…it is the quality of the Irish—that remarkable combination of hope, confidence, and imagination—that is needed more than ever today.”

We have time to read now ad below are some suggested authors. However, first are some observation Edna O’Brien made about literature and the value of reading. She made these in a recent interview with The Irish Times.

She says, “Language lives longer than people and therefore its permanence is vital. It moves us from one generation to the next. Writing isn’t elitist: it’s the deepest things we have. It’s as essential as breathing.”

I buy all the books reviewed in this column from Amazon. These are some recently reviewed authors to choose from: Benjamin Black (John Banville), David Pearson, Jean Grainger, John McAllister Jo Spain, Owen Parr, Steven Henry, Sheila Connolly, Gema Jackson.

Benjamin Black is the pen name of John Banville. He writes about the mid-1950’s, when he was growing up. Next month, the review will be his latest book: The Secret Guests.

There are some quotes from Benjamin Black’s books:

Holy Orders: In a moment of complete honesty, a parish priest says about the power of the Church in Ireland: “Look at our own benighted country, hide bound by rules and regulations formulated in the corridors and inner chamber of the Vatican and handed down to us as if graven on tablets of stone.”
Even the Dead: “The Church was threatened by psychology and psychiatry. It kept trying to ban them and forbade its members from having anything to do with them.”

A Death in Summer: “That was another he remembered from the various institutions he had endured: the way the priests and brothers smoked compulsively, indulging all their pent-up senses in one of the very few permitted pleasures.”

Holy Orders: His inner feeling as he approaches the orphanage is shown: “The trees, sycamores and beeches, and the odd oak, were bare, their branches etched in stark black against a sky of birds-egg blue and big white clouds.”

A Death in Summer: Meeting the head priest of that cruel orphanage: “Fr. Ambrose was tall and thin and grizzled, like one of those pared-down selfless priests who till the mission fields or care for lepers.”

Christine Falls: A middle-aged woman observes: “Everything is changing. It will be different in the future. Unlike girls of her generation, they’ll have a chance to be themselves, to live!”

Even the Dead: Spring comes to Dublin: “the morning sun was shining. Girls in summer dresses were walking by the river, and there were swans on the water, and flags were rippling in the warm breeze, and in Grafton Street there would be the rich brown smell of roasting coffee beans from the open doorway of Bewley’s Oriental Café, and paper boys would be calling out the latest headlines, and there would be the sounds of horses’ hooves on the Cobblestones and the cry’s of the flower sellers at the stalls. Summer. Crowds. Life.”

The Black Eyed Blonde: “Life is far more messy and disconnected than we let ourselves admit, wanting things to make sense and be nice and orderly, we keep making up plots and forcing them on the way things really are. It’s one of our weaknesses, but we cling to it for dear life, since without it there’d be no life at all…”

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