Monday, December 10, 2012

Portobello Notebook by Adrian Kenny

Portobello Notebook is 'just what it says on the tin'- a notebook collection of reminiscences, experiences and stories connected in some way with Portobello in Dublin 8, that little spot of Dublin that stretches from the South Circular Road to the Grand Canal, bordered west and east by South Richmond Street to Upper Clanbrassil Street. Now that's sorted we can move on to the book! Adrian Kenny the author has been an English teacher, journalist and broadcaster and the book collects his writings from over thirty years. Some of his past jobs are drawn into the tales, in particular his role as a teacher.
This book was a little gem to discover, to dip into and enjoy a story at a time or to wolf down in one sitting as I did. Some are sad, some are revealing but all are written with a quiet precise voice where no word is wasted; each is considered and carefully put together to tell the story in its best way. In this way it was a pleasure to read and I was sorry when I reached the end.

'Settling In', a short reflection on moving into the area, ends tragically with a drowning. 'Harry' refers to the experience of writing and 'Going Back' returns the speaker to a childhood memory when he meets a man on the train. There are tales of past loves and of disappointment in love and in 'Saturday Evening Mass' there is final acceptance of thing that used to annoy about a parent who is nearing the end of life and a meeting of an old friend, now a homeless drifter. 'The Cricket Match', the longest piece in the collection, is about a young man finding himself as he detaches himself from the family home and also an experience that left him ill.

Kenny's previous work includes Before the Wax Hardened (1991), Istanbul Diary (1994) and The Family Business (1998)  and this book left me keen to explore more of his writing.

Published by The Lilliput Press

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