I managed to forget two of my Christmas books.
Ronnie, by Ronnie Drew
Forgetting this, the memoirs of Dublin's most famous blow-in, is nothing other than a dirty rotten shame. As you know, after arriving in the big smoke, Mr Drew eventually joined the folk group The Dubliners and over the years managed to become a national treasure. This book seems to be only partially his actual memoirs, as most of it appears to have been constructed from notes and interviews before his death, while much of the rest is various people telling stories of the Ronnie Drew they knew.
It is a shame that Ronnie did not live to complete his memoirs himself. It would also be great if this was an audio book – read by the great man himself. Wheh wheh wheh.
Literary Walking Tours of Gothic Dublin, by Brian J. Showers, illustrated by Duane Spurlock, foreward by Pat Liddy
I have had my eye on this for a while. It is a guide to olde stuff in Dublin, using three writers of gothic fiction as McGuffins for an exploration of the outré. Conveniently, all three writers are out of copyright, so the book is able to reproduce some of their spooky fiction. Just so you know what I am letting myself in for, the three writers are Charles Maturin, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and Bram Stoker. Maturin is not so well-known these days, but his novel Melmoth the Wanderer (about the eponymous character, who has entered into a pact with the Devil, selling his soul in return for a greatly extended life) is highly regarded among those who like gothic literature. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu is maybe a bit better known, as his long short story Carmilla invented the lesbian vampire story, that crucial genre. I recommend Carmilla highly – it is nothing like as schlocky as you might think, and presents its vampire lady as something to be pitied as much as feared (perhaps also inventing the emo angst vampire genre of which sulky teenagers everywhere are so fond). Bram Stoker, meanwhile, created one of the most famous fictional characters of all time.
One great thing about this book is that it does not assume you have a car, so it does provide such key information as how to get to the Hell-Fire Club through a combination of walking and public transport. I think this is something that other guidebooks could learn from.
I was coincidentally today in Mount Jerome cemetery, a site featured in this book. With its rows neglected graves, covered in sad angels and obelisks, it gives good gothic bang for its buck. I also see from a map in the book that it has one particular site of gothic interest located oddly near to my own home, in which I am now typing these words. I wonder where exactly they are talking about and what is reputed to have happened there. Let me just check the page… My God! The address! It is not possible, it.. Wait, what is that noise? No! It cannot be…