I finished Sebastian Barry's On Canaan's Side recently. That book is ubiquitous here, in every store window alongside the second edition of Beckett's letters. And I find myself much more at home in the bookshops here than in Canada, where I was once told that Paul Auster is considered a more exotic writer when I queried his new release. And although it's unfair to take that as representative, it made me a little crazy and I can't let it go. I sometimes think it must be just me, exaggerating to myself just how literary Dublin is. But no, there's no two ways about it, I'm right about that.
And one of my purchases here was from Cathach Books. I had saved my pennies for a first UK edition of Ill Seen Ill Said (having already a first US edition). But their online inventory was not accurate and I was deprived. Still it's my favourite bookshop and so I scanned the shelves for something else. And it was hard because I had my heart set on Beckett and with a whole shelf of signed first editions of Godot and Krapp staring down at you, sure your heart would break. But I settled on a first edition of Sebastian Barry poetry. Here's one I liked a lot...
for J. O'H.
Below the paintings of the hill
te house in berry-bitten autumn
adjusts itself to find you at the gate,
entertains the pleasure in your drive
around the whistle of the bush
on small gravel tunes.
Later at night the windows burn
the box light of character.
You stand with the resting moon
to view the unfamiliar front
like a family in façade—
two quick rows of children playing late.
And the car turns to meet the challenge,
vanishes without quite vanishing,
its metal purpose slowed by leaves.
You send your boy to read the five-bar gate
where lines to home lie clearly
and first rain glitters on the paint.