Walk | Don\'t Walk, Dublin Selected *277

 

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As the kind of people who live by the maxim, ‘four wheels bad, two wheels good, two legs even better, but sometimes a little slow’, we can’t help but feel mildly vindicated by the news that a substantial portion of the city is going to become car-free, with College Green and the quays reserved for use by public transport, cyclists, and pedestrians, whilst Suffolk Street will finally be pedestrianised, and areas St. Stephens Green also.

Yeah, we wish South William Street, Drury Street and others were also on this list, but it is an excellent start. We don’t have our heads buried in the sand; we know that this is a cost-effective answer to the city’s congestion issues, but the spin-offs should still be positive. Young and inexperienced cyclists will have the opportunity to become more confident cycling in the inner-city; families will be able to walk their kids from Grafton Street to the park without the fear of a cyclist jolting the wrong way through the lights right outside the entrance. Public transport will be more reliable, and people will be encouraged to take this more environmentally friendly mode of public transport (provided the powers who be actually reappraise the current costs which are increasingly prohibitive.)

However, we have to wonder when the infrastructure of traffic across the city is going to be revisited. There are too many junctions where what should be straightforward crossings require jaywalking and running across roads because the traffic lights and crossings were apparently erected at random. When are drivers going to be educated about the fact that cyclists turn right too? We’re not collectively Zoolander’s evil twin from a parallel universe! And when will we all look gorgeous from all of this fresh air? Important questions.

Who’ll be bringing road rage to a pedestrianised zone near you soon? Kate, Michael or Eoin?


Lift Off - DIT Grad Exhibition

5,4,3,2,1...

Life Drawings

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
 

Ib Jorgensen

Fashion, darling.

Kirkos Blackout

Can you see the light?
 

Stan Douglas: Mise en Scène

A man who is dancing is not a dancer at…

Waxahatchee

Directionless twenty-something. Talented, directionless twenty-something.
 

Olé Olé

OK so car parks, public parks, warehouses, beaches, harbours and…

Bloomsday Brunch

Whether you have read, have not read, or have lied…
 

Sitric Picnic

Our friends Sitric!

Monsters, Dinosaurs, Ghosts

From eerie to Eminem
 

SodaBreadBox

Bread in your box of the soda variety.

In Ulysses: Proteus

From reality to hyper-reality.
 

Aligned

Realign yourself.

Beck

Locating scientology on the Richter scale.
 

196

Not a finger-pointing exercise.

Knockanstockan

Knockanstockan is a hardy perennial on the festival circuit.

Goat

Why not sheep or cow?
 

All City Jam

We spoke to Olan of All City Records about this…

What is Eggshells about?
That’s the hardest question I get asked! “Eggshells” is quite a strange book so it’s difficult to describe it in a couple of sentences, but basically it tells the story of Vivian, a quite eccentric woman who feels like she doesn’t belong and believes she’s a changeling. She walks around Dublin trying to find a portal back to the otherworld, and gets herself into all sorts of scrapes with ordinary Dubliners when she tries to impose her version of reality on them. Vivian also traces the routes of her wanderings onto pieces of paper in an attempt to find a pattern.

What writing experience did you have before Eggshells? Had you ever been published before?
I had worked for several years as an abstract writer for a U.S. company, reading magazine articles and writing summaries of them, so I was used to producing words on demand but I had no experience of writing creatively for publication. In 2010, I did a creative writing course, which really kickstarted any creative writing notions I had. We worked on short stories and personal essays in class, and the class has still kept in touch, mostly to go out drinking, but I was able to show them an early draft of “Eggshells” and ask for their feedback. I trust them hugely and am lucky to have that kind of honest feedback; it’s sometimes painful and hard to take, but mostly worth it in the end. Kind of like surgery I suppose.
After the course finished, I found myself unemployed, and I entered some short stories and essays into journals and competitions, but they were all rejected. So that’s the answer: no, I had never been published before “Eggshells”. I decided to write a novel seeing as I wasn’t having any luck with shorter pieces – and to delay what I presumed would be the inevitable rejection.

Eggshells combines a realistic portrayal of modern day Dublin with elements of the fantastic. Why did you choose to make reference to changelings and fairy worlds?
I think that just came naturally from the character, Vivian. She doesn’t really fit in with her surroundings and sees things in a totally different way – I suppose she imprints her more magical version of things onto actual things that have no magic, like when she sees a small door in a shop leading to the stockroom and assumes it’s a portal to another world, or goes looking for a holy well and ends up finding a public toilet.
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of changelings – as society’s way of explaining people who are perceived as behaving strangely or who don’t fit into the family. And that idea of not belonging was heightened by Vivian’s assumption that there was somewhere she could belong.

Reviewers have compared your writing to Joyce for its experimentation with language and its exploration of Dublin. Would you agree? Are you a fan of Joyce?
That is a hugely flattering, but probably not realistic comparison. I mean, I think the sense of wandering around Dublin is similar, but Joyce is on a more complex level entirely. I had read “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” and “Dubliners”, but I read “Ulysses” for the first time this year, during another bout of unemployment (which is probably the best time to tackle “Ulysses”). I’d been too daunted to go near “Ulysses” for years, but when I read it, I absolutely loved it, even though I’m not sure I totally understood it and I probably missed a lot of the references. I was very glad that I hadn’t read it when I was writing “Eggshells”, or I think I would have been way too intimidated to have my character wander the same streets as Leopold Bloom – it would have felt like too great a standard to live up to.

What are you going to do next?
I’m working on the second novel, in theory anyway. I’ve a good chunk of the first draft done so I want to get properly stuck into it again and hopefully finish the first draft by the end of the summer. Then it will be constant tweaks and retweaks until I’m satisfied with it.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m a fiend for starting lots of books at the same time. On the floor beside the bed there’s Henry Miller’s “The Books in My Life”, George Konrád’s “The City Builder”, Greg Baxter’s “Munich Airport”, Rebecca Solnit’s “Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness”, and Peter Turchi’s “Maps of the Imagination”, because I’m completely obsessed with maps. I’m rereading Mary Costello’s “The China Factory” because I loved the stories so much the first time, and I’m nearly finished “Gulliver”, a children’s version of Gulliver’s Travels by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Riddell.
I have fantasies of somehow growing another few hours every day so I can read all the books I want to.


Le Help

Le Cool is a free weekly magazine distributed every Thursday that features a selection of cultural events and leisure activities, revealing the things you really shouldn’t miss. We filter out, among other things, the best art, film, music, and club nights, as well as a careful selection of extraordinary bars, restaurants and other fine places. Le Cool content is chosen because we believe it is worth your time and will never be traded for money.

To contact our editorial team, email Kate.
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