Colourful Cork city; vaunting tech desire; cultural politics

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Liberty Terrace

Madeleine D’Arcy
Doire Press, €15

“Cork [is] such a small city you’d need to be doggy wide if you didn’t want people to know all your business,” grumbles a has-been rock star in Madeleine D’Arcy’s new short story collection.

In Liberty Terrace, a fictional area of Cork, she provides an acutely witty cross-section of it, set between 2016 and 2020. Dysfunctional families and long-lasting traumas loom large over these darkly funny stories. D’Arcy takes her cue from Martin McDonagh and John B Keane. But countering these depressing realities are moments of redress: a disabled woman and her sister slash the tyres of an inconsiderate able-bodied person; and an elderly widower battling alcoholism takes a young squatter under his wing. After all, as the last story notes, we’re just off Hope Street. – Tanvi Roberts

The Every

Dave Eggers
Penguin

A follow-up to The Circle, Eggers’ 2013 attack on tech companies reshaping our lives, later adapted into a poorly received Tom Hanks movie, The Every finds his imaginary corpo giant now completely out on its own after consuming their main rival “named after a south American jungle”.

Delaney Wells finagles her way into the job that everyone’s after, but her aim is to bring the company down by suggesting a series of app ideas so ludicrously intrusive that users will finally have enough and demand an end to this “changing of the species from a free animal to a kept pet”.

Eggers’ “stop, you fools!” message should be obvious to even offline tribesmen living near that aforementioned river. And he certainly doesn’t need 600 odd pages of his own infinite scroll to get it across. Still, at least he delivered The Every before Facebook’s Meta announcement, which would surely have induced further “we’re all doomed” conniptions. – Pat Carty

The Quality of Life: Essays on Cultural Politics

Richard Pine
Cambridge Scholars, £74.99

These essays represent 40 years of commentary on the political dimensions of cultural life and range from theories of international communication to providing cultural facilities at local level.

Council of Europe former consultant Richard Pine had particular experience of the latter, shown in two important essays from the 1980s which pioneered the concept of “cultural democracy”. He’s spent his adult life in Ireland and Greece and three-quarters of the book explores the cultural politics of Irish writers such as Brendan Kennelly, John B Keane, Kate O’Brien and Brian Friel (Pine has written extensively about Friel elsewhere but three new essays on him appear here), while the Greek section mainly comprises the Durrells and Irish-Greek comparisons. Particularly pondered are themes of “self”, “other” and postcolonialism in this stimulating, eloquently written work. – Brian Maye



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