The novel describes a post-war society whose scientists have been commissioned to furnish a supply of cloned human beings to be used as life-saving organ generators for the rest of the population. The clones who feature in the novel have a pleasing childhood and adolescence at a remote rural boarding school called Hailsham, in England. But as young adults they become 'donors,' persons whose organs are removed, in hospitals, for transplantation into other needy uncloned human beings. Some are appointed 'carers' of those who 'donate,' until they themselves become donors in turn. Each clone will typically make several donations until he or she 'completes.' Completion is a euphemism for death.Add a comment
- 21 February 2011
- Joseph Mahon
- 15 February 2011
- Lorraine Courtney
Lorraine Courtney reviews Martin Gilman's No Precedent, No Plan: Inside Russia's 1998 Default.
Back before the global economic slump, the IMF was hastily careering down the path towards irrelevance. But that was then. Now, it is back in town, right at the front line of bail-out packages, wrangling over government spending and tax reform.
The IMF's missions are always extremely political and their success fundamentally unpredictable. This is the main message in Martin Gilman's tale of Russia's erratic, often ineffectual, economic reforms in the period between the collapse of the Soviet Union and its default on its domestic debt.Add a comment
- 08 February 2011
- Edward O Hare
Unavailable for years, Anthony Cronin's The Life of Riley is a first-rate comic novel, about life in the bohemian Irish cultural scene of the 1960's, that also manages to pack a serious punch. Ed O'Hare pays tribute.
For years The Life of Riley has possessed that mystique peculiar to novels with high reputations that are extremely hard to find. First published in 1964 and reprinted only a handful of times, it's a novel remembered for being very funny and very clever. Sadly, it's been out of print so long there won't be many readers under the age of 40 who have enjoyed it for themselves.Add a comment
- 07 February 2011
- Edward O Hare
Unnatural Pursuits and How's That For Telling 'Em, Fat Lady?, playwright Simon Gray's painfully funny account of two shambolic productions of his works in London the 1980's, are the most amusing and eye-opening theatrical memoirs yet written. By Edward O'Hare.
For two seasons in the 1980's the English playwright Simon Gray kept a diary. Returning home in the early hours of the morning he would switch on a tape machine and record his fresh impressions of the staging of his latest play, The Common Pursuit, while an endless succession of cigarettes and malt whiskies passed through his fingers. The play, about four privileged Cambridge undergraduates who set up a literary magazine, had taken Gray several years to write but he still felt uneasy about it. This was understandable. Gray had enjoyed a rather chequered career, with an equal number of box-office smashes and massive flops on his résumé. Critics were his sworn enemies, a fact which may have had something to do with them being the targets of his most barbed jokes. But when Gray completed The Common Pursuit the stakes were even higher. Not only for professional but financial reasons he needed a big hit.Add a comment
- 26 January 2011
- Joseph Mahon
Taking a look back at A.C. Grayling's Among The Dead Cities: Is The Targeting of Civilians in War Ever Justified? By Joseph Mahon of NUI Galway.
In this well received book, the philosopher A.C. Grayling sets out to answer two questions: During the Second World War, was the blanket bombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki a crime against humanity? Is such 'area bombing' ever justified? Grayling's answer to the first question is: Yes, these acts of war were a crime against humanity. His answer to question two is: No, area bombing is never justified. For the most part, Grayling treats these two questions as if they were logically related, in the sense that he reasons repeatedly that a Yes answer to the first question entails a No answer to the second. But such reasoning is unsafe: from the fact that the above acts of war were a crime against humanity, it does not follow that area bombing as such is a grave moral wrong. It may be wrong always, or even of its very nature, but that is something which has to be separately demonstrated.Add a comment
- 19 December 2010
- Edward O Hare
- 15 December 2010
- Shane Creevy
America stood as the last superpower after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Unrivalled, American values spread as globalisation increased, perhaps embodied by Francis Fukuyama's call for an 'end of History' (in a 1989 essay and also a book in 1992). What was Fukuyama arguing for? Does his hypothesis still make sense? By Shane CreevyIn 1776, when America rebelled against the British Crown – and succeeded – the political landscape of the world changed. Reflecting on the rise to power of America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that a thriving society which attempts to unite citizens separated by large distances requires a common belief to coagulate the masses. He wrote:
"In order that society should exist, and, a fortiori, that a society should prosper, it is required that all the minds of the citizens should be rallied and held together by certain predominant ideas".
Before the rise of nationalism, America was united as a nation only in name. Serious internal divisions persisted, not least between north and south, east and west. The country necessitated a universal standard upon which the people as a whole could, in Joseph Conrad's words, "set up, bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to". This was realised through religion.Add a comment
- 06 December 2010
- Edward O Hare
For all its benefits the internet might not be the universal friend we believe. In his new book The Shallows Nicholas Carr argues that it has a serious drawback: it is turning us into superficial minds addicted to information highs and endangering our ability to contemplate deeper questions of existence. By Ed O'Hare.Add a comment