Book review: Why writers drink

Because of a logistical slip, this review did not get published in the usual venue… I think it’s well worth a read (as is the book in question), so here it is, below: Review: The Trip to Echo Spring. Why Writers Drink by Olivia Laing Canongate, €28.99 (Hardback) Frieda Klotz One of the most pervasive … Continue reading

The lessons of academe

A bizarre scandal emerged from the academic world this week: the strange case of Reinhart, Rogoff and Thomas Herndon, a grad student who detected major flaws in their research.  The research of R&R, both professors at Harvard, had been used to justify austerity by many politicians. In a speech he gave three years ago, Britain’s Chancellor of … Continue reading

Glen Hansard on “Once” and New York fame

Last night at I had a chance to hear Glen Hansard speak in the intimate surrounds of Glucksman Ireland House. The audience was promised that Hansard – who achieved fame with his film Once and especially the recent production of a musical version on Broadway – would “tal[k] about music and songwriting.” That he did, though he repeatedly … Continue reading

Religion, East Village style

I got a haircut on Friday, unusually late in the evening. As I walked to the salon on East 11th Street, I couldn’t help noticing the gleaming pink cross jutting out from the building opposite. I thought it must be a nightclub, making an ironic comment on religiosity and sin, but no – it was … Continue reading

Asking for it

One of the greatest and least welcome of surprises of my thirties has been the dearth of women I know who occupy positions of power. Gradually, as I’ve listened to the radio or indeed, read newspapers, I have come to realize that women who write frontpage articles or anchor news shows are in the minority. … Continue reading

New York’s second storm

It was my neighbour who warned me about the storm this time, a young mother from the Dominican Republic. “I’m just back from the supermarket,” she said, as the taxi driver carried in bags. “The lines were an hour-and-a-half long. People are panicking.” The next day (Friday) when I took a subway into town, the … Continue reading

Dublin, emerging from the ashes

Since leaving Ireland 13 years ago, I’ve gone home every Christmas. Each time there is a sense of strangeness, and estrangement – returning to a landscape that is familiar but has altered somehow. The most dramatic developments began when I lived in London, during the years running up to 2007. I’d return to find that … Continue reading

Going west: A trip across America

I’m on the last leg of one of the most fantastic trips ever, a journey by train across America. I went from New York through New Orleans and Arizona and on to LA and then San Francisco. Along the way I’ve met: a cowboy, a go-go boy, and a Vietnam veteran and reformed Hell’s Angel, … Continue reading

New York, losing its cool

A few years ago (or maybe more) when scientific reports about global warming filtered into the mainstream, I recall feeling immensely anxious. The predictions were apocalyptic, and it was hard not to worry about what lay in the future for the human race. Luckily, climate change ceased to be new or “news” and the reports … Continue reading

Occupy Wall Street, Weds eve after midnight

On Wednesday sometime very early in the morning police evicted the Occupy Wall Street group from Zuccotti Park. At around 10.30pm that evening I happened to be in the area and stopped by. The tents were gone but lots of people were there and the atmosphere was charged. I  went home to get my camera, … Continue reading

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