Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Novelist Bernard MacLaverty in fine form in familiar surroundings

Like all great Irish novelists, Bernard MacLaverty has ploughed an equally successful furrow as a short story writer.

To celebrate the imminent publication of his collected edition works, he chose the salubrious surroundings of the Great Hall in Queen's – "a place where I used to eat" – for an enlightening conversation with BBC Radio Ulster's Marie Louise Muir.

First, he read the story Clinic from his 2007 collection, Matters of Life and Death. He described it as a "hats off to Chekhov" story, whom the protagonist peruses to while away the tedium (and the worry) of a test for diabetes.

It contained all the elements that make MacLaverty special, mixing keen observation and dark humour with a poetic feeling that sprang from what he explained was a Catholic tradition of language, where things were said "until they became abstract".

Like most Irish writers there has been a tradition of strong women MacLaverty's his life.

There was his ferociously Catholic Auntie Betty and a mother whose greatest wish was for him not to write anything dirty.

Recently, he has worked both in film and opera, for which he showed an engaging enthusiasm. When Marie Louise asked him delicately what he was currently doing, he replied cryptically that he was "working on a thing" – a suitably enigmatic way to end an enjoyable evening.

 

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Scorpio:

It's important to treat yourself well. Constantly deferring to others will deprive you of the finer things in life. Carve time out of your busy schedule to pamper yourself. Taking a nap, solitary walk or hot bath will revive your spirits. Get into the habit of spending more money on creature comforts. Treat such as gourmet food, beautiful clothes and intriguing books are investments in your happiness. Others may object at being put farther down on your list of priorities, but that's their problem.More