The Book Show S4 #7 Paula Meehan, Moby Dick, Paul Auster, Ethel Rohan, Max Richter

This week on The Book Show we bring an hour of author interviews, features and readings.

Sinéad Gleeson speaks to the poet Paula Meehan who has recently edited a collection of pamphlets called 10 Poems From Ireland. The 10 poems begin with Michael Hartnett’s ‘Death of an Irishwoman’ and include poets such as Eavan Boland, Moya Cannon and Leanne O’Sullivan. One of the poets featured in the collection, Thomas McCarthy joins Paula and Sinéad to talk about the themes in his own poem, ‘Their Going, Their Dying’ as well as the themes in the collection overall.

Regan Hutchins speaks to two writers about Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Victoria Kennefick’s poetry collection ‘White Whale’ was written as a response to her father’s illness and death. Stephen Phelan travelled to the US town of New Bedford where Melville set off on his voyage that was to be the inspiration for Moby Dick. The book is more than the simple tale of a whale hunt and the symbol of the whale can lend some meaning to an entire continent or a heart-broken poet.

Paul Auster joins Sinéad to speak about his latest novel ‘4 3 2 1’ which is the story of the 4 lives of Archie Ferguson. Though beginning in the same circumstances (same parents etc) each life is a different one. However, each is played out in parallel – the ideal ‘what if’ novel. Auster tells Sinead about a grim moment from his childhood which he returned to in developing the novel. He discusses the process of writing four novels in one and how it has left him a bit winded before he looks for the next project. At 866 pages or 1.2 kilos, that’s hardly a surprise!

Ethel Rohan is an Irish author based in San Francisco. She’s written short stories and a memoir and her debut novel ‘The Weight of Him’ has recently been published in the US. She talks to The Book Show ahead of a June publication date over here. The Weight of Him is the story of Billy Brennan. He’s obese and it is only when his young son Michael dies by suicide that Billy decides to address his weight issue and raise awareness for suicide. How he fares and how his family manage his transformation and their own grief is the subject of the novel. Ethel says that while she’s in many ways the complete opposite of Billy, her own, often troubled, experience has gone into the writing of this book.

Finally this evening Sinéad speaks to the British composer Max Richter about music originally copmosed for the stage. Three Worlds is inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf – Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves. The album opens with the only known recording of Woolf’s voice where she speaks about words and it ends with Gillian Anderson’s heartbreaking reading of Woolf’s suicide note where again she returns to the theme of words and how they have forsaken her. In between Richter has composed responses – orchestral and electronic – to the words, ideas and atmosphere of Woolf’s writing.