An internet scrapbook with a shuffle button. (They're the best things...!!)
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Donal Ryan is a magus of a writer. He has such magic at his disposal to tell a story, which would benefit from being read out loud: The Thing About December has an other-life that is truly theatrical. This is a novel to replenish the reader’s heart and spruce the reader’s soul, although it also makes one doubt we possess such signal things. It’s a force of nature, high artifice and the product of a life-enhancing talent.
Sebastian Barry goes spare for Ryan’s new book, which I’ve just read, having picked it up three days after Christmas. It is beautifully constructed, and Barry’s points about language are well made, if a bit effusive. But then I’ve not read the first novel yet. It will be exciting to get hold of it.
Other letters simply relate the small events that punctuate the passage of time: roses picked at dusk, the laziness of a rainy Sunday, a child crying himself to sleep. Capturing the moment, these small slices of life, these small gusts of happiness, move me more deeply than all the rest. A couple of lines or eight pages, a Middle Eastern stamp or a suburban postmark … I hoard all these letters like treasure. One day I hope to fasten them end to end in a half-mile streamer, to float in the wind like a banner raised to the glory of friendship. It will keep the vultures at bay.