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Vol.4 No.1

March 2009

The Submarine Excuse us for the comparison, but The Submarine has of late been behaving like the unfortunate Asgard, the sunken sail training vessel. That is, having struck an unidentified semi-submerged object, it became itself submerged and lay on the ocean floor awaiting assessment. After multiple surveys and examinations our vessel was deemed—as if there was ever any doubt—eminently seaworthy, unlike the poor Asgard. Yes, The Submarine was ‘just resting’ and now surfaces once more , restored and unbarnacled, and brimful of news of all that is good in the Library; though with one small change. The global recession has taken its toll, and we could only afford an external paint job. Inside, where the crew work, we revert to a sturdy, yet functional, black and white. And speaking of the crew: Hal Downer, who keeps a professional eye on the Library’s culinary collection, gives us a In This Issue: chicken recipe from Kilkenny by way of France, Molly Dunne ‣ reviews the excellent, and non-culinary, Broken Soup, Emma Moore considers the 2009 St Columba’s favourite book of the year, Twilight, from both a print and film perspective, Mr Brett examines one of Caroline Lawrence’s popular Roman Mystery series, The Thieves of ‣ Ostia, for accuracy, and gives it the thumbs up, while Ian Fraser looks at a serious novel about a tragic event—Bad Day in Blackrock ‣ —a timely topic in this season of schools’ rugby cups, and the social milieu from which some—and we stress some—of the players come. ‣ Mr Fanagan makes a welcome return to our pages with a review of ‣ the biography of Richard Yates, author (and troubled man) of Revolutionary Road, the film version of which was nominated for an ‣ award in this year’s Oscars, and Rev Heaney recommends a book that stayed in his mind for many years, and which he recently recommended to the Library, Nicholas Gage’s description of Greek ‣ immigration into America after the tragedy of civil war, A Place for Us. Dr David Sowby, a long time friend of the Library reviews ‣ Klondike, which, along with the two other Pierre Berton books he has ‣ given us, The National Dream and The Last Spike, significantly strengthen our Canadian history section. And finally, we give our centre spread and pride of place to Milo Reddaway for his imaginative and humorous story, ‘Regal Surprise at Tibradden’, ‣ winner of the Library’s inaugural World Book Day Junior Short Story Competition.On behalf of The Submarine we would like to thank ‣ Sebastian Stephenson for the layout. T!C,Librarian

Chicken with Rosemary and Cherry Tomatoes-Hal Downer-2 Broken Soup-ReviewMolly Dunne-2 Twilight-Review-Emma Moore-3 New Books-4 Pirates of Pompeii-Mr Brett-5 Regal Surprise at Tibradden-Milo Reddaway-6/7 A Place for UsRev.Heaney-8 Bad Day at Blackrock-9 Klondike By Pierre Berton-Review-David Sowby-9 Richard YatesMr.Fanagan-10 World Book DaySurvey-11/12

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March 2009

RECIPE : Chicken with Rosemary and Cherry Tomatoes HAL DOWNER: This is a recipe I learnt last summer in France from a lady from Co. Kilkenny who grows organic vegetables.

What you do: 1.

Take the chicken pieces and cut the skin off. Place them in the bowl and pour in a healthy serving of olive oil. Take two of the rosemary sprigs, strip the leaves off the stalks, and mix the leaves thoroughly in the bowl. Put aside for about 5 minutes to allow the oil and rosemary to sink into the chicken pieces.

What you need: 4 boned chicken pieces ✓ 6 small cherry tomatoes ✓ 3 sprigs of rosemary ✓ good quality olive oil ✓ salt and pepper ✓ a bowl, a roasting dish, tin foil ✓

2.

Chop the cherry tomatoes. Line the roasting dish with tin foil. Place the chicken pieces evenly across it, add the tomatoes on top of the chicken, then break the last sprig of rosemary into four and place on top of the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper.

3.

Put in the oven for about 30-35 minutes, then turn the tray around so the chicken cooks evenly, and return to the oven for another 30-35 minutes. Serve with boiled potatoes and green beans.

An analysis of BROKEN SOUP by JENNY VALENTINE MOLLY DUNNE This book is about Rowan, a fourteen year old girl, whose brother died two years earlier. Her mother is still grieving, which means that Rowan has to look after her little sister, Stroma. When she was in a shop buying Stroma her dinner, a boy handed her something. It wasn’t hers, but she took it anyway. Later on she meets new friends, and maybe a new love. My favourite character has to be Rowan’s little sister, Stroma. The author gives such a great description of a little girl that you would think she is real. I also liked Bee, Rowan’s new friend, even after a few twists in the plot. I really enjoyed the book and didn’t want it to end. You never knew what was going to happen next. I think Jenny Valentine portrayed the characters very well. She knew what words they would say, and how they would react to certain situations. I would definitely recommend this book because it was really interesting and it shows that not everybody is lucky enough to have a perfect family. It’s definitely one of my favourite books and I really enjoyed reading it.

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March 2009

An analysis of TWILIGHT by STEPHENIE MEYER EMMA MOORE

I first heard of Twilight about a year and a half ago through one of my friends at my old school. Only one or two people had heard about it at that stage, so none of us knew how much of a success it would be. At the start of the book I found it quite hard to get into it, so I was slightly apprehensive to start off with, but I was determined to keep going and finish it. Once I was a couple of chapters into it, I was completely hooked. The plot of the book itself isn’t one you would really think of as being a good basis for a book if aiming for a bestseller. Vampires are often thought rather naïve and so many people hesitate when explaining the storyline. It is often just a case of getting people to trust your judgement and to try to convince them to read the book. Once you do, it’s well worth it! The author manages to convey a lot of emotion in the book since it is written in first person narrative. This gives readers a real insight into what the main character is feeling which really strengthens the book. Since the book relies so much on the thoughts of the characters to make it understandable, this makes it very difficult to turn the book into a film since so much of the book is inside someone’s head. When there were first rumours of the book being made into a film, many people thought it wouldn’t be anything like as good as the book. This was because in the way that the author has written the book, a lot of the images of people and places are left completely up to you, making it a very visual book, so in many cases people thought a film would ruin the book if the actors chosen didn’t fit the image they had in their heads. Also, another big factor for many was that since so much of the book is told through thought, the storyline would lose a lot of its meaning since thoughts are very hard to convey on screen. Surprisingly, for many people, the film was a success. It has just the right balance between the main characters’ thoughts and the rest of the storyline, without losing any of the important parts of the book. For me personally, even though I enjoyed the film very much, I have to say I still prefer the book for the simple reason that I like being able to imagine the story, characters and setting myself, instead of having to follow what a Hollywood director thinks is suitable for the story.

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March 2009

NEW BOOKS IN THE LIBRARY This is a selection of some of the books we added to our shelves in 2008. SENIOR FICTION

Thanks for the Memories Cecelia Ahern Sacrifice S. J. Bolton The Night Music Christopher Campbell-Howes Sea Change Kate Cann Brida Paulo Coehlo Notes from an Exhibition Patrick Gale A Concise Chinese-English dictionary for Lovers Xialou Guo The Ghost Robert Harris Tree of Smoke Denis Johnson With my Lazy Eye Julia Kelly The Woman in the Fifth Douglas Kennedy This Charming Man Marian Keyes JUNIOR FICTION

Ten things I hate about me Randa Abdel-Fattah The Astonishing life of Octavian Nothing M.T. Anderson Mutiny on the Bounty John Boyne Innocent Anne Cassidy Airman Eoin Colfer Lee Raven Boy Thief Zizou Corder Jimmy Coates: Survival Joe Craig The London Eye Mystery Siobhan Dowd Wilderness Roddy Doyle Inkspell Cornelia Funke Hazel Julie Hearn Mates, Dates and Great Escapes Cathy Hopkins Into the Wild: Warriors Book 1 Erin Hunter The Star of Kazan Eva Ibbotson The Gallowglass Brian Keaney Crusade Elizabeth Laird Apache Tanya Landman Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire Derek Landy Kai-Ro Graham Marks Tamburlaine’s Elephants Geraldine McCaughrean The Sleepwalker Robert Muchamore Burn my Heart Beverly Naidoo Mister Monday Garth Nix The December Boys Michael Noonan Fallen Star Joan O’Neill Rat Catcher Chris Ryan Physik: Septimus Heap Book 3 Angie Sage Blood Red, Snow White Marcus Sedgwick The Invention of Hugo Cabret Brian Selznick Death’s Shadow: Demonata 7 Darren Shan Hitler’s Canary Sandi Toksvig The Essential Calvin and Hobbes Bill Watterson Kiss Jacqueline Wilson The Silver Notebook Enda Wyley Memoirs of a teenage amnesiac Gabrielle Zevin

Wolf Dreams Yasmina Khadra Remember me? Sophie Kinsella Wicked Gregory Maguire In the Country of Men Hisham Matar Winterwood Patrick McCabe The Road Cormac McCarthy Night Train to Lisbon Pascal Mercier What was Lost Catherine O’Flynn The Interpretation of Murder Jed Rubenfeld The Enchantress of Florence Salman Rushdie Hotel Juliet Belinda Seaward Body Surfing Anita Shreve At Mrs Lippincote’s Elizabeth Taylor NON–FICTION

Introducing Postmodernism Richard Appignanesi In Person: 30 Poets (book and DVD) Neil Astley [editor] One Soldier’s War in Chechnya Arkady Babchenko Blood River: a journey to Africa’s broken heart Tim Butcher Speeches that changed the world Cambridge Vietnam: a war lost and won Nigel Cawthorne It’s in the blood: my life Laurence Dallaglio Luck and the Irish: a brief history of change 1970-2000 R. F. Foster The Highland Lady in Dublin 1851-1856 Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus The Poetry of Derek Mahon Hugh Haughton Time added on George Hook Ireland’s Other Poetry; Anonymous to Zozimus John Wyse Jackson [editor] Image makers, image takers Anne-Celine Jaeger Raiders of the Caribbean: Ireland’s Cricket World Cup Trent Johnston The Cambridge History of Irish Literature, vols I and II Margaret Kelleher [editor] The Shock Doctrine: the rise of disaster capitalism Naomi Klein Magnum Magnum Brigitte Lardinois [editor] Nigella Express: good food fast Nigella Lawson Shakespeare: an anthology of criticism and theory Russ McDonald [editor] Ivan’s war: the Red Army 1939-1945 Catherine Merridale The Irish Times Book of the Year 2007 Peter Murtagh [editor] The Archimedes Codex Reviel Netz How to fossilize your hamster and other amazing tricks for the armchair scientist Mick O’Hare The Secret Life of Poems: a poetry primer Tom Paulin The Angel of Grozny: inside Chechnya Asne Seierstad The Teenagers Guide to Money Jonathan Self Still here with me: teenagers and children on losing a parent Suzanne Sjoqvist Bad Men: Guantanamo Bay and the secret prisons Clive Stafford Smith Delia’s how to cheat at cooking Delia Smith Souls of the Sea: the tragic story of seven lives lost Damian Tiernan Here, Bullet Brian Turner

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An analysis of THE THIEVES OF OSTIA by CAROLINE LAWRENCE MR BRETT The Thieves of Ostia is a fast-paced adventure story which tells of the detection of a crime by the young Flavia Gemina. In the familiar formula of the Five Findouters events are facilitated by the temporary removal of parental control. Flavia is lucky to have a sea captain for a father. The author studied Archaeology at Cambridge: so it is no surprise that the depiction of the physical city of Ostia in the 70s AD is free of error. She avoids the temptation of describing or explaining too much about that built environment, the peculiarities of which are conveyed clearly enough in an incidental manner. The characters—Flavia and her three strangely assorted friends—are generous and likeable, even if one has a short-lived fall from grace, but almost too wholesome and free from complexity. That is not to say that they are flat but that their individualism stems from their different cultural backgrounds rather than from tensions within their own psyches. This may be an unfair judgement. The Thieves of Ostia is the first in a series of adventures and it will be interesting to see whether the characters become more rounded or develop emotionally. So much of 20th century novel writing has been in Bildungsroman tradition and so much of its criticism has taken the form of amateur psychology that it may come as a surprise to be reminded that in Roman times things were regarded very differently: human character was a given, determined at birth. Flavia may develop under Caroline Lawrence’s tutelage; but she certainly doesn’t expect to do so. The genre of historical fiction is very popular, and, now that archaeology has unearthed so much of the material culture of the past, responds to an imaginative need to envisage these numerous human ecosystems populated by realistic people. Nor at one level is that very difficult, since the human race is not so very different now to what it was, say, two thousand years ago: no new emotions have been invented. At a deeper level, however, the process seems more problematic and all the more so as one school amongst historians seeks ever to refine its methods in the recovery not just of the sequence of events in the past but of past mentalities. It would be fascinating were the writers of historical fiction to respond to this fairly recent development in the study of History itself. Such considerations should not deter anyone from enjoying The Thieves of Ostia which is a page-turner for those of all ages who like a good yarn. Near the back of the January ’08 issue of History Today (to be found on the racks in the Library) Caroline Lawrence details her personal journey toward authorship: it should be of interest to the budding writers in this College. JRB

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This year, as part of St Columba’s World Book Day celebrations, the Library introduced a Junior Short Story Competition. Its theme was a ‘real life’ encounter with a character or creature from a book. Milo’s winning story is dramatic and humorous, knowledgeable and imaginative. In it he examines the impact of a visit by that proud and mighty warrior king of kings, Xerxes of Persia, to the familiar surroundings of Tibradden, and to some people and places a little further afield..

REGAL SURPRISE AT TIBRADDEN by Milo Reddaway I had just finished Latin and was going to break. The sun was up and the black clouds looked like a massive army coming to invade the sky. I was passing the Library when I heard a huge blast. The ground trembled and I almost fell on the hard ground. I got up and asked Brendan if he had heard the explosion. He said no, and looking at me as if I were mad, went to break. Thoughts were racing in my head. “A massive blast and tremor and no one noticed?" The blast seemed to have come from Tibradden. I raced there as fast as I could, and when I saw the front door I was stunned. The handle had been ripped off and the whole door was covered in deep gashes. “If only Mr Patterson could see this!" I thought. I carefully pushed the door open and went to the Day area. I felt I must be in a dream as standing before me, dressed in full armour was no other than Xerxes, King of Kings, Emperor of Persia. Standing six feet high, he loomed over me like a mountain. He looked strongly built in his impressive scale armour. He had ebony black hair and a black beard reaching to his chest. He had the most powerful and mystical gaze I had ever seen. I felt so small compared to this titan. I bowed down low and a smile appeared upon his face. He asked me in a calm voice, “Where am I and who are you?' I replied, “Great king, I am Cyrus by name and you are in the modern world.” He gave me a stern look. Immediately I said, “To be precise, we are in the College of St Columba.” Xerxes inspected his surroundings. “Show me around before anything is done about this.” “But you must wear these,” I said, while handing him a pile of clothes. “What are these, don't tell me those Greek pigs have invented something absolutely ridiculous again!” cried Xerxes. I was about to tell him why he had to wear them but he had walked off into the Boarders’ area. I followed him and found him sitting on a bed looking through Brendan's bag. I rushed up and said, “Please, your majesty, the bag’s owner is going to kill me if he sees this.” Suddenly Xerxes jolted upright and drew a nasty looking sword from his belt. I was amazed how well hidden it was. “Who is going to kill you? If I find him I will dispatch of him immediately!” he shouted. “I hate murderers!” He was so concentrated on looking for Brendan that I had to shout to draw his attention. “SIR!” He looked at me with pure astonishment. “What I said was an expression of these modern days.” “Oh,” said Xerxes, looking sheepish. “Now put these clothes on. I will see if anyone is coming.” I posted myself in the main corridor while I 6


Vol.4 No.1

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waited for him to change. Finally Xerxes arrived, dressed in modern clothes. “I hid my armour in your locker,” he said. At first I wondered how he got it all in but forgot to ask. “Stay here,” I said, and knocked on Mr Patterson's door. I said to Mr Patterson that a special guest wanted me, and only me, to show him around. He reluctantly said ok and I went and told Xerxes the news. He was quite happy about this. I first wanted to show him around Tibradden. He was intrigued by the water fountain. “Why is there no irrigation or well around here?” he asked. “This country is very fertile but it rains every day here,” I said. I showed him the Como room and told him to keep away from the computer and TV. I then showed him around Argyle. When he saw the Chapel he asked me, “Why isn't the faravahar painted on the entrance?” When I showed him the inside he said, “Why is there no fire in the middle? And why are all the chairs facing that piece of wood?” “For Christians that is their holy symbol,” I said. “Oh, so sorry, I thought this was a Zoroastrian fire temple,” he said sheepishly. I brought him to the sports pitches where Mr Swift was teaching rugby. When he saw this, Xerxes went up to Mr Swift, grabbed him by the jacket and actually lifted him off the ground. “WHY ARE YOU POISONING THESE KIDS’ MINDS?” he shouted. “YOU SHOULD BE TEACHING THEM HOW TO USE THE SWORD, BOW AND LANCE! YOU SHOULD BE TEACHING THEM HOW TO BE CIVILIZED, NOT TEACHING THEM TO PROPEL THEMSELVES INTO EACH OTHER!!!!” Xerxes' eyes were flaming and his skin was blood red. Mr Swift was white with fear. He was so afraid he could not speak. I pleaded with Xerxes to release Mr Swift. I wonder how he is doing now. Finally, I took Xerxes to dinner. He was astounded he could not order whatever food he wanted. When we returned to Tibradden, we were both exhausted. “I have finally found out how to get back home,” he said. When I heard this, I was sad he was leaving. “How?” I asked. “I have learned what things will be like in the future and will try to be a good emperor.” With those words, he opened my locker and took out his armour. “Thank you so much for your kindness and goodwill. When I die, I will remember you.” After he had spoken, the whole room was filled with a blinding light and Xerxes disappeared. I was close to tears. Then I realized, “Oh HELL! He took the modern clothes with him.”

Congratulations to our

World Book Day 2009 BOOK TOKEN WINNERS _____________________________________

Junior Book Quiz: Sam Bewley, William Tidey, Stephanie Cafolla, Lily Guinness Bookmark Design 2009: Qasim Bari, Pia Gromotka, Alex Owens, Lauren Scully Senior Crossword Puzzle: Miriam Poulton, Celeste Guinness, Joey Millar, Oli Smith Favourite Book Survey: Philipp Arndt Short Story Prize: Milo Reddaway 7


Vol.4 No.1

March 2009

An analysis of A PLACE FOR US by NICHOLAS GAGE REV. HEANEY

Some years ago I was lent a copy of ‘A Place for Us’, read it and its memory remained in my mind. I needed to re-read it but could not remember the details. Mr McConville managed to find a copy and I have just completed it. Autobiography can be fascinating especially when it is about someone who apparently against great odds, has fulfilled life and brought a great deal of fulfilment to others too. At the age of nine Nicholas Gatzoyiannis (later Gage) and his sisters escaped to the USA from their mountain village in Greece which had been overrun by Communist fighters. While other children had been kidnapped and transported to Albania and other parts of Communist Europe, their mother had been arrested, tortured, tried and shot dead, in her efforts to allow her children to escape. Having escaped and been held in a refugee camp in Greece, they set sail for America. Arriving in the USA, Nicholas and his sisters joined their father in Worcester, Massachusetts where he worked as a chef. Nicholas Gage tells the story of his time in school, college and university coloured by a kaleidoscope of Greek family events, reunions, baptisms and weddings. Through tough times and good he paints a very human picture of someone who against a background of tragedy is determined to succeed. Succeed he did, when among other things he won the William Randolph Hearst Foundation Scholarship for Journalism which allowed him to study at Columbia University. After graduation, while working for a number of the New York newspapers he was sent to Athens where he researched the events and the people involved in his mother’s murder. His research ended in him writing the book ‘Eleni’. The book which tells of the Greek civil war and how it was that his mother Eleni and many other men and women were killed though clearly innocent of any crime. ‘A Place for Us’ is worth reading because it deals with very human life issues of violence, crime, religion, work and family. Nicholas is no innocent and he has his scrapes as child and adult. But at heart he is an ordinary ‘good’ person who can be an inspiration to all.

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An analysis of BAD DAY IN BLACKROCK by KEVIN POWER IAN FRASER I do remember the trial. I remember well seeing those young faces walking down the cold steps of the Four Courts in Dublin. I remember noting, even at the age of nine, that these men did not look like murderers. The scenario seemed strange to me, the boys accused of the death of Brian Murphy were merely boys. Boys with no drug habits or gang affiliations. It was for these reasons that the trial became such an event and attracted the attention of the limelight. These were boys of a class depicted to us as "Celtic Tiger era". They were from prestigious, Jesuit order South County Dublin schools. In the book Power educates us in the ways of this newborn class and how it became a society that allowed Brian Murphy to be killed. How it was more than a blow to the head that led to the death of this young man. Power addresses this murder from a social level, and shows how this outlandish and brutal attack shocked and embarrassed many living this new lifestyle in modern Ireland. He traces the origins of this new society, and shows how the Celtic Tiger had brought Irish people to a class of wealth and luxury that left snobbery and bad blood in its wake. It was this divide between old and new that was one of the contributing factors in the death of

Murphy. He recalls at first hand the moments of tension and jealousy that led to the unfortunate night outside Annabelle’s nightclub. He leads us away from our initial thoughts on the murder motive, which was rugby, but again reminds us that rugby was a part of this society, and that the behaviour around it was acceptable in the new Dublin, and of course it was a contributory factor in the death. Kevin Power does not try pinpoint a motive for the attack—it was too complicated a situation to do so, and is too sensitive a topic, even to this day, to bring up around dinner tables. We will really never know how something so brutal and primitive could happen in circles in which we were certain such an occurrence was impossible. He shows us that underneath the designer clothes of the new Ireland, we really have not come a long way.

An analysis of KLONDIKE by PIERRE BERTON Dr.DAVID SOWBY From time to time communities go mad. This book, Klondike, describes how such an event happened. In this case the community was the population of North America, plus some gullible folk from faraway places such as Australia and the British Isles. The rumours of untold amounts of gold in the Klondike unhinged even ordinary ‘respectable’ members of society. Doctors, lawyers, clergymen and others just stopped their usual work and headed off to make a fortune. Most of them had no idea of the rigours they would expose themselves to; a number of them never reached the gold fields; few of them actually found gold and those who did mostly spent it in various stupid ways. Klondike was written by Pierre Berton, one of Canada’s best and best-known writers. He himself was brought up in Dawson, the short-lived metropolis that grew and died over the three-year period of the gold rush. As a child he played among the detritus still to be found in the area, the remains of equipment and personal belongings discarded by the stampeders. As Berton explains, the Klondike episode, together with the development of the railway that finally connected Eastern and Western Canada, had the beneficial outcome of opening up the country’s hitherto unexplored northwestern territory. Klondike, as well as Berton’s two books about the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway (The National Dream and The Last Spike) are of great interest to anyone wishing to know more about that important era in Canada’s history. David Sowby is the son of CW Sowby, Warden of St Columba’s College from 1934 – 1949, and later headmaster of Upper Canada College. He has been constantly generous to the Library and has donated, amongst many others, the three books he mentions in his review.

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An analysis of

A TRAGIC HONESTY: THE LIFE AND WORK OF RICHARD YATES by BLAKE BAILEY FormerAdvisortotheTaoiSeach: MR FANAGAN I have just finished A Tragic Honesty , a biography of Richard Yates, who died in 1992. Rarely can a book have been so aptly named: his life was disastrous on a personal level. His parents separated when he was a child and he became a chain-smoking alcoholic. He was attractive to women (and loved them), but his two marriages ended in divorce; he was impossible to live with. Like King Lear, whom he resembles is some ways, he had three daughters. Unlike Lear, they really loved him and he them. They were the joy of his sad life. If he was a disaster area as a human being, he was a write of real power. I have read four of his novels and some of his short stories in the last few weeks and am recommending him to all my friends. Of course, because of the success of the film version of his Revolutionary Road (first published in 1962), all of his books are back in the bookshops now, in attractive retro-covers, published by Vintage. His novels and stories are set in early Sixties America and mainly focus on the experiences and relationships of men and women, their ideals and (almost inevitable) disillusionment with their lives. Yates's writings are highly autobiographical: not just about himself in various guises, but his mother, his sister (who died a broken alcoholic is her forties) and friends and acquaintances. Young Hearts Crying(1984), though one of his later novels, has a familiar cast of idealistic young people being bruised by their experiences of the world. For the teenage reader, particularly at a boarding school, I'd recommend A Good School(1978) whose central character, William Grove, is Yates himself: nervous, an aspiring writer, struggling to fit in at an eccentric American boarding school. His ambivalent attitude to the school is both convincing and recognisable. I laughed out loud at this description of Yates in his car, near the end of his life: “a gaunt whiskered old man hunched over the wheel of his tiny car, a cigarette smouldering in one fist while the other clasped an oxygen mask to his face...the locals seemed to be adjusting, automatically making way when the telltale Mazda came tooling into their ken�. His writing, however, remained beautifully crafted to the end. It took him five years to write his first novel; nearly as many for the second. He had started with short stories and I'm dipping into those now, particularly Eleven Kinds of Loneliness. The title says it all. He is a great writer. Try him.

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WORLD BOOK DAY FAVOURITE BOOK SURVEY On Thursday 5 March, World Book Day, the Library asked the pupils of St Columba’s to vote for their favourite book. This voluntary annual poll is a snapshot of current opinions, conducted through the kind offices of the (ever-patient) English department. All and any books were eligible, from childhood favourites to today’s bestsellers, be they fact or fiction, poetry or drama, in English or any other language. We achieved a respectable poll of 165 votes (many of the 6th form were already engaged in exams). In a remarkably wide-ranging selection, and a testimony to the very positive reading culture in the school, 105 individual authors were nominated and 125 separate books. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer’s was our winner with eight votes followed by Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner with five votes. Full Results are over the page. Twilight is Stephenie Meyer’s fabulously popular vampire/human romance, the first of a four-part series, and features Bella Swan as its heroine, and vampire Edward Cullen as the love interest. Though the vote for it was almost exclusively female, the librarian knows that males borrow and read this book too. A feature of the book is that though Edward is ‘dangerous’, out of love for Bella he denies himself his full vampire instincts, and like all good fantasy adventure, matters of honour, loyalty, friendship and courage are to the fore. The recent film release no doubt boosted the vote, but the book, published in 2005 in the USA, and available in the library since 2007, was seriously popular long before that. Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in the Twilight series, features as one of our fourth most favourite books. Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is our second most popular book. It too has been made into a feature film, and describes an act of childhood betrayal in an apparently idyllic pre-revolutionary Afghanistan, and subsequently the brutal realities of life under the Taliban. Originally published in 2004, the Library has seen a surge of interest in it this year, perhaps because of the release of Hosseini’s second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. The three books in our third most popular group can be seen as a countersurge by the Junior library (though Twilight crosses all boundaries). Curiously these three are all American based. S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders deals with gangs and gang violence, Harper Lee’s moving classic, To Kill a Mockingbird with racism and a principled lone stand against it, and Robert Muchamore’s fast moving Maximum Security, though featuring the highlytrained English teenage secret agents of Cherub, takes place for the most part in an American young offenders prison, a place almost as brutal as its adult counterpart. Our final group of books are wonderful in their variety, and illustrate in microcosm the reading range of our voters. They include Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice, popular fiction in Breaking Dawn and Cecelia Ahern’s P.S. I Love You, and two contemporary Holocaust novels, John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas from the Junior Library and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief from the Senior one.

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Vol.4 No.1

FAVOURITE BOOK

Votes

March 2009

FAVOURITE AUTHOR

Votes

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

8

Stephenie Meyer

13

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

5

Anthony Horowitz

7

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

4

Jane Austen

5

Maximum Security by Robert Muchamore

4

Khaled Hosseini

5

S.E. Hinton

4

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

4

Harper Lee

4

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

3

Robert Muchamore

4

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

3

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

3

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

3

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

3

Lauren Shcully

Qasim Bari

Alexandra Owens PIa Gromotka These are the wonderful winning designs got this year’s English Department/Library Bookmarks The English Department is now podcasting on its site. The first two interviews were with Mr. Ronan Swift about his new album, and with Mr. John Fanagan on the writer Richard Yates )p10( . Lots more podcasts are planned for next term!

sccenglish.ie

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March 2009 edition

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