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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book made me homesick, 20 Oct. 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Waking Up In Dublin: A Musical Tour Of The Celtic Capital (Paperback)
After feeling disillusioned and not a little disgusted at the rampant consumerism and super-pubbery that accompanied Dublin's glory boom days, I left and never felt a twinge of remorse. Until reading this book. Almost incidentally, the writer manages to capture the musical heart and soul of the city. All the old cultural cornerstones are here - Whelans, the old Marx Bros, Bewley's disgusting coffee, the Baggott Inn..and some new ones too, a music venue called The Village, a swish Italian hot chocolate cafe and - Hallelujah! - a Northside gospel choir belting out Sting numbers. I want to go back and join in!
The book runs the gamut of where to go and what to listen to, from good ol' Dub rock to trad, classical, jazz, campanology (bet you didn't know that St Patrick's Cathedral has the largest number of bells in the world) and some unfamiliar territory to me, eg, the cabaret scene, which seems to be one woman's brave attempts at foisting this particular brand of European avant garde-ism on an unreconstructed Irish audience. Good luck to her.
I love the way the writer ambles around town meeting the movers and shakers of the scene over what seems to be an endless series of coffees, teas, hot chocs and pints. He's not a 'muso' which makes the book accessible and also free of the bitchiness and cronyism that often comes with insider writing.
But for me the winner was the author's intimate and often tormented relationship with the vibrancy, the grime, the crime, the crass plastic surgery of many of the older areas, the conflicts and contradictions and of course the cursed weather - that is 21st century Dublin. I remember well the secret places he mentions, the hidden gardens and that religiously quiet city cemetery. I also remember the sense of frustration as another historic landmark was shelled to make room for a faceless designer pub or stack of million-euro apartments. News of the demise of the Baggott St Inn and the imminent demolishing of The Cobblestones evokes similar hand-wringing reactions. For God's sake, are some things not sacred!
But progress will bulldoze on, and in the meantime, it is books like this one, unintentionally snapping the moment so perfectly, the prose finding an understated humour between the local sacred and the global profane - from Joyce and Beckett to Janet's exposed boob and George Doubleya, and although sticks and stones may change the character of a city, the characters themselves, and the long tradition and love of music will continue on. And long may it do so. A treasure of a book, I'm looking forward to the re-read, and, dammit, I'm even looking forward to going back.
But is it really that cold?
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