In the mood for Irish misery porn? Yes, always.

Last week, my Goodreads buddy, David, remarked on my reference to ‘Irish misery porn’ – I don’t think I coined that phrase (although a quick search suggests that the most frequent use of the phrase is on this blog…hmmm) but for the purposes of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I’ll claim it as my own.

Irish misery porn refers to those particular types of stories that involve bleak childhoods, mams full of woe (usually with husbands that spend the money on pints of Guinness rather than pints of milk) and relentless rain. I love them.

irish-misery-porn

The genre* ranges from the truly grim (that’s where I hang out) to lighter fare (think authors such as Maggie O’Farrell). I’ve picked my top five and another five that are on my reading list**.

1. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

‘When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.’

2. The Green Road by Anne Enright

3. Academy Street by Mary Costello

4. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

5. The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin (it’s a different kind of miserable but qualifies because of the family).

And on my TBR list –

6. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

7. The Fields by Kevin Maher

8. The Guts by Roddy Doyle

9. The Story of Esther Costello by Nicholas Monsarrat (okay, he’s not Irish but the book is set in an Irish town and is supposedly miserable).

10. A Monk Swimming by Malachy McCourt

*see, not only am I claiming the phrase, I’ve now made it a genre.
**it’s actually the start of Reading Ireland Month today, so pop over to 746 Books for lots of good Irish author suggestions.

Advertisements

28 responses

  1. I’ve never read Irish misery porn, but I love that you have possibly coined your own phrase *and* created a genre lol. Though maybe I should check one of these out since I do like books set in other countries and Irish seems to be the only accent I can even remotely do in my head while reading, haha.

    • I’ve only read Nora Webster by Toibin and although I liked elements of it, it didn’t capture me. That said, I enjoyed the movie of Brooklyn so much that I’ll certainly read the book.

  2. Kate…I’m very happy to hear that you’ve stepped up and laid claim to the “Irish-misery-porn” literary genre moniker. I’m thinking that there should be an annual award presented in the category, like the Booker or PEN/Faulkner. Perhaps Dublin’s own Brendan Gleeson could be Master of Ceremony for the 1st Annual presentation, offering up his best constipated frown to the attending audience? Daniel Day-Lewis would work if Brendan is unavailable.

    I happen to be a big fan of Mary Costello, adored the bleakness of “Academy Street” and happily wallowed in the sadness of her book of short stories, “The China Factory”.

    And, Thank the Lord that Maggie O’Farrell finally has a new novel coming our way in July!

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0385349424/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_img?_encoding=UTF8&colid=390TYIYJS9FCT&coliid=I3ODLAABWGLJ67

    My personal nomination for 2016’s IRISH-MISERY-PORN Award is Sara Baume’s “Spill Simmer Falter Wither” (which was actually published in late 2015). This story, a beautifully written debut novel, even includes a miserable, one-eyed dog, who is impossible to adore, and bites children.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25261902-spill-simmer-falter-wither

    Regards, David….”misery, Irish or otherwise, loves company?”.

    • I very much like your idea of an annual award David. Firstly because Daniel Day Lewis and secondly because I would need an annual trip to Ireland. As would you, given that you came up with this excellent idea (any plan that involves a trip is a good plan, IMO).

      How good was Academy Street? But a bit underrated by reviewers, I thought. I haven’t read her short stories but will add them to my list, as I will do with your other suggestions. Of course, I’ll begin with the Baume.

    • Of course πŸ˜‰ That said, it is a genre to read in small doses. If you haven’t read any of them, start with Angela’s Ashes – it’s just brilliant. I also loved The Green Road (although others weren’t so keen) – Enright’s writing is beautiful.

  3. Pingback: Sample Saturday – a firebug, short stories, and love letters | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

  4. Pingback: Sample Saturday – a dog, an illness, and the state of Maine | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s