BOOK REVIEW: A Very Irish Christmas by Various

A Very Irish Christmas: The Greatest Irish Holiday Stories of All TimeA Very Irish Christmas: The Greatest Irish Holiday Stories of All Time by Various
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazon.in Page

Out: September 14, 2021

This anthology contains fourteen previously published pieces by prominent Irish authors, including: Joyce, Yeats, and Colm Tóibín. It’s mostly short fiction, but there are a few poems as well as a couple of excerpts from longer works. All the pieces are set around (or reference) Christmas, but the degree to which that plays into the story varies a great deal. The anthology is very Irish, but not always very Christmassy. Meaning, if you’re expecting a collection of pieces like Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” where the joy or melancholy of the season is front-and-center throughout and the holiday, itself, is a pivotal story element, you won’t find that in a number of these selections. Often, the season is just an element of ambiance or of short-lived emotional resonance.

That said, the selections are all artfully written and each is intriguing in its own way. In the case of Joyce’s “The Dead” the appeal is the evocative language and creation of setting (though the piece does have more explicit story than, say, “Ulysses.”) Whereas, for pieces like Keegan’s “Men and Women” or Trevor’s “Christmas Eve” the point of interest might be the story, itself. Besides the Irish author / Christmas reference nexus, the included works cover a wide territory including contemporary works (keeping in mind the authors are mostly from the 20th century) and those that hearken back to days of yore. Some are secular; while others are explicitly Catholic.

I enjoyed this anthology, finding it to be a fine selection of masterfully composed writings.

View all my reviews

POEM: Unbridled Exuberance

DC03D3AF-796E-42D9-8D39-AF9EA4C37E8C

At the sight of I know not what,
something — or, maybe, someone —pointed out by his grinning granny,

I saw a boy run in place,

overcome by enthusiasm from the waist down —
like a cherubic Michael Flatley sans the coordination, but with exuberance to spare.

At the sight of the boy,
I couldn’t help but ask myself when my idle setting got turned down so low.

Surely, once upon a time, there was something that so excited me that my limbs bypassed central control and spastically did their own thing…

but I can’t remember when.