Brilliant Book Titles #313

stories to sing

The speculative shines bright in the dark with these stories by Matthew Bright: a boy with a secret begins work at a strange library housing all the books never written; Dorian Gray’s love of beauty struggles in the face of AIDS-era San Francisco and the Castro; the tomb of the Empress is adrift in space and hungry for the concubines aboard her; two men in an old film finally realize that they are trapped but still they seek the means for finally declaring their love for each other. These and other tales of the queer fantastic should be the perfect bedtime read.

Brilliant Book Titles #312

think write speak


The last major collection of Nabokov’s published material, Think, Write, Speak brings together a treasure trove of previously uncollected texts from across the author’s extraordinary career.

Each phase of his wandering life is included, from a precocious essay written while still at Cambridge in 1921, through his fame in the aftermath of the publication of Lolita to the final, fascinating interviews given shortly before his death in 1977.

Introduced and edited by his biographer Brian Boyd, this is an essential work for anyone who has been drawn into Nabokov’s literary orbit. Here he is at his most inspirational, curious, playful, misleading and caustic. The seriousness of his aesthetic credo, his passion for great writing and his mix of delight and dismay at his own, sudden global fame in the 1950’s are all brilliantly delineated.

Brilliant Book Titles #311

boot sale

For football fans who hungrily feed on gossip and rumour, Christmas comes twice a year – once in August and again in January. These are the months when the transfer window dominates thoughts, when the prospect of a new signing or two reinvigorates the hopes and dreams of the hopelessly devoted.

Nige Tassell goes behind the scenes to observe the workings of the transfer window and to examine why it continues to hold such fascination for a nation of football lovers. He speaks to players, managers, chairmen, agents, scouts, analysts, fans, journalists, broadcasters and even bookmakers to hear how they survive – and possibly prosper from – these red-letter months in the football calendar. Completely up to date to include key action from the 2018/19 transfer window.

Nobody writes about football like Nige Tassell: poignant, funny, nostalgic and reminds us why we love the game.

Rusty Brown by Chris Ware

Rusty Brown

I was very, very excited for this. Chris Ware is a fantastic cartoonist and graphic novelist. His Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth was a total masterpiece that won The Guardian First Book Award.

His last major graphic novel, Building Stories, was a boxful of surprises – containing books, posters, tiny chapbooks and more, all of which can be read in any order. It was the story of a building and its residents, both current and historical.

Rusty Brown – 22 years in the making – is the story of a single day and a bunch of interrelated characters. Like all of Ware’s work, it is impeccably drawn and designed and cut through with a deep sadness which Ware captures so well.

The one thing I didn’t realise when reading – until the very end, with it’s intertitle Intermission – that it’s the first of two books. That was a little offputting, but the stories here are very strong, however it’s hard to judge the book as a whole, since it’s only the first half.

That said, the bravura Jordan Lint section chronicled Lint’s entire life in around 80 pages and moved me to tears and is worth the price of the book in and of itself.

Highly recommended.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here. 

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker


So, I’ve never read any Clive Barker and I thought it was time to rectify that.

I started with The Books of Blood (Volumes 1-3) and, despite their occasional silliness, I really liked them a lot.

The Hellbound Heart whilst not part of them, would thematically fit (but it’s too long – a novella, rather than one of Barker’s long short stories). It is also famously the basis for the film Hellraiser, which was also written and directed by Barker.

And, I think, therein lies the problem.

I’ve seen the movie and I liked it, but the novella which preceeded it feels like a sketch that Barker fully fleshed out and realised in Hellraiser.

The story in brief: predatory lothario Frank has a magic box that can access the Cenobites, whom he thinks will give him eternal pleasure instead of endless pain. His brother, deeply in love with his wife Julia (but not reciproacted by her who had an affair with Frank) move in to a new house. The brother’s daughter pops in and out. Frank escapes but is a scrap of himself and needs blood. And Julia, madly in love, starts seducing men and bringing them home for him to kill…

An interesting but not essential read. Try instead the first omnibus of The Books of Blood (I’m current about to start the second omnibus, Volumes 4-6).


You can reserve this online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here. 

Brilliant Book Titles #309

dance like.jpg


Giant hornets, rampaging rabbits, dancing dinosaurs, angry ants, human boiler systems. A nightmarish vision of a post-apocalyptic future? Maybe. But these are also the furry characters who add that little extra spice to every sporting occasion. These are the world’s mascots.

What is the point of them? To cajole, to intimidate, to inspire, to celebrate, to console, to terrify young children? Who knows, and frankly, who cares? They are here to stay and there’s nothing we can do about it, so we might as well enjoy them.

Dance Like Everybody’s Watching! is a loving and hysterical celebration of the best, worst, silliest and most absurd mascots sport has to offer.


Brilliant Book Titles #310

dont you know who i am

It’s time to take our lives back from a world of narcissism, entitlement, and toxic relationships.

“Don’t You Know Who I Am?” has become the mantra of the famous and infamous, the entitled and the insecure. It’s the tagline of the modern narcissist.

Health and wellness campaigns preach avoidance of unhealthy foods, sedentary lifestyles, tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, but rarely preach avoidance of unhealthy, difficult or toxic people. Yet the health benefits of removing toxic people from your life may have far greater benefits to both physical and psychological health. We need to learn to be better gatekeepers for our minds, bodies, and souls.

Narcissism, entitlement, and incivility have become the new world order, and we are all in trouble. They are not only normalized but also increasingly incentivized. They are manifestations of pathological insecurity—insecurities that are experienced at both the individual and societal level. The paradox is that we value these patterns. We venerate them through social media, mainstream media, and consumerism, and they are endemic in political, corporate, academic, and media leaders.

There are few lives untouched by narcissists. These relationships infect those who are in them with self-doubt, despair, confusion, anxiety, depression, and the chronic feeling of being “not enough,” all of which make it so difficult to step away and set boundaries. The illusion of hope and the fantasy of redemption can result in years of second chances, and despondency when change never comes.

It’s time for a wake-up call. It’s time to stem the tide of narcissism, entitlement, and antagonism, and take our lives back.