“Analysing it was great, it kept your mind going. Thinking, thinking, thinking," - Mary O'Rourke
With June coming to an end and more than half of 2016 past, the Eason Book Club panel on The Pat Kenny Show turned their attention to a new book from the Irish poet Conor O’Callaghan. Nothing on Earth, the debut novel from the award-winning wordsmith, is a Gothic thriller, set somewhere in Ireland on a ghost estate. So what Mary O’Rourke, Katherine Lynch, Brian Kennedy and Newstalk’s own bibliophile make of it?
“The characters who tell the story are very vague,” said Katherine, who admitted to finding the novel occasionally tough, but worth the effort. “It’s a bit Tess of the D’Urbervilles, it’s a bit Stephen King. And it’s all about the imagination. Only each individual reader can give themselves the answer. Reading the book it was bit hard, but actually analysing the book was gorgeous.”
Praising O’Callaghan’s prose and writing style, Katherine added: “I loved the book when I was finished it, but I found it a hard read. Halfway through it just turned for me and I just went wow.”
“Analysing it was great, it kept your mind going,” said Mary. “Thinking, thinking, thinking. It was great for a book club. Marvellous for a book club.”
Brian Kennedy was far less enthused, finding O’Callaghan’s characters to be too lacking in substance to win him over. “What I was thinking was, who are these characters? I want to be kind to a first-time novelist – we all know how difficult that is. But from the get-go, it was like walking in a thick fog for me. I couldn’t see past it.”
“Of course it was foggy, but if you put your mind to it, the fog started to clear,” countered Mary. “I sound like a teacher. Sorta asking did you do your homework?”
But Brian could not be shaken, telling Mary: “I just really didn’t care enough about the characters. Maybe the little girl, whose name we never learned. I’m craving a story, I’m craving characters I can really care about. And because I didn’t know enough about these characters, I couldn’t care about them.”
Pat likened the story to the classic Japanese film Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa’s iconic story told from the vantage point of several different characters.
“I found the book difficult to get through,” admitted Pat. “But afterwards, I kept thinking about it.”
As ever, the Eason Book Club took a call from a listener, that duty falling to Helena Smith of Clontarf. She and a group of her friends are members of The Book, Wine, and Therapy Club, and tackle every genre – even the odd chick lit.
Regrettably, the ladies of the club could not be sold on Nothing on Earth.
“We didn’t enjoy. We thought he was trying too hard, to be enigmatic and mysterious. None of us said that we liked or disliked any of the characters,” Helena said.
“There was no flow, we had to keep flicking back and forward, and read some chapters twice. And these are clever ladies!”
July’s book choice will be made by Katherine Lynch, who will pick on Monday from the following four titles available in all Eason bookstores and online: One by Sarah Crossan, The Death of all Things Seen by Michael Collins, Barkskins by Annie Proulx, and Ruth Gilligan’s Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan.
Tune into The Pat Kenny Show on Monday to hear which book Katherine chooses. You can listen back to the full Eason Book Club segment from this morning’s show below: