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defri (Ireland)

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Watching the Door
Watching the Door
by Kevin Myers
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsively Readable, 16 July 2009
This review is from: Watching the Door (Hardcover)
Kevin Myers has a reputation as a serial controversialist, and very few people could agree with all of his views, or even most of them. He is a polarising figure, as the Amazon reviews for the hardbook edition of this book amply demonstrate - at the time of writing, it has ten 5-star ratings, five 1-star ratings, and nothing in between.

He has written a very personal memoir based on a period of time when he was (a) commencing his adult working life, (b) starting out as a journalist, and (c) moving to Belfast, a city very far from his previous experience (c18 years in a middle-class existence in England, plus a few more in the rarefied environment of Trinity College Dublin). So, at a formative stage in both his career and his personal life, he wound up moving to possibly the English-speaking world's maddest city, in a job that required him to report on its maddest events. This confluence of events has resulted in a memoir that is frightening, sometimes very depressing, but often wildly funny.

It's compulsively readable, unputdownable. His 'scoop' in organising an interview with the first released internee (Chapter 4) takes an unexpected and priceless turn. The arrival of the American feminist Shannon as a guest (Chapter 20) is beyond hilarious, though you do wind up asking yourself whether the lily has been gilded a bit here - I don't want to spoil the fun by quoting from the chapter, but Myers is not known for being an ardent feminist, and she does sound a bit too good/bad to be true.

Highly, highly recommended. If you enjoy it, you could also consider another journalist's memoir - Walter Ellis's 'The Crippling Disadvantage of a Happy Irish Childhood', which is set in Belfast around the same time, and while not quite as remarkable or well-written as Myers's effort, it is still a very good book with plenty of eye-opening moments.

Basic Italian: A Grammar and Workbook (Italian and English Edition) (Grammar Workbooks)
Basic Italian: A Grammar and Workbook (Italian and English Edition) (Grammar Workbooks)
by Stella Peyronnel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.79

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Model of Concision, 19 May 2009
Fewer than 200 pages, but gets through a lot. Manages to be both concise and thorough. Logically organised and easy to use, it has exercises at the end of each chapter and solutions at the back. Not aimed at a tourist looking for a few useful phrases - it's more for someone looking for a thorough grounding in the basics of Italian, and, from that perspective, highly recommended.

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