Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Edna O'Brien

A new documentary on writer Edna O'Brien on Irish television should be worth tracking down - I can't find it though on the RTE iPlayer ... but the blurb sums it up:

Edna O’Brien: Life Stories follows the extraordinary tale of one of Ireland’s most celebrated literary greats. Directed by Charlie McCarthy and produced by Cliona NĂ­ Bhuchalla of Icebox Films, Edna O’Brien-Life Stories reveals a fascinating and encompassing insight into the life of the Irish novelist.
Now in her eighty second year and about to publish a memoir in October, Edna O’Brien opened her home and her heart to filmmakers Charlie and Cliona with the result of a compelling portrait of one of the great survivors in Irish literature.
Edna O’Brien’s journey from Tuamgraney, County Clare to the centre of literary life in London has involved defiance of family, censorship, elopement, motherhood, unhappiness in marriage, custody battles, divorce and the rearing of two sons as a single mother. But throughout most of these upheavals she wrote consistently to produce an impressive and unique body of work which makes her the doyenne of Irish letters.
O’Brien’s  was, and still is, a life lived in technicolour. She was a key figure in the social and literary whirl of sixties and seventies London. She  had close encounters with many of that period’s icons: Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Mitchum among them. She is probably the only Irish novelist who credits the taking of LSD with influencing her prose style in the early 1970‘s.
Based on a series of frank, moving and entertaining interviews with O’Brien and with her sons Carlo and Sasha, the film is a fascinating portrait of a woman whose infinite variety and ageless spirit  make her an icon at home and abroad.
Edna O’Brien-Life stories will air on Tuesday 8th May at 10.15pm on RTE 1.

As the review in "The Irish Times" puts it:  "Its strength was that it got behind the well-known image she presents of a fey, flame-haired Irish woman - the Maureen O'Hara of the literary world - to delve into her memories to explore the themes that absorb her: from family bonds to exile, from the creative impulse to love and loss. And she has been around for so long that you forget how much of a literary celebrity she was. At the height of her fame she did the rounds of the chat-shows - there is an amusing clip from a Michael Parkinson show, as well as clips from the films from her works".

Her early '60s novels are still marvellously re-readable: THE COUNTRY GIRLS, THE LONELY GIRL (which became THE GIRL WITH GREEN EYES film in 1964, and the 1966 film I WAS HAPPY HERE from another of her stories "Passage of Love", her other books like A PAGAN PLACE, MOTHER IRELAND, THE LOVE OBJECT, RETURNING, books of short stories and her most recent one SAINTS AND SINNERS with some very satisfying stories. Great to see her still writing in her 80s. There was also of course that amusing (for all the wrong reasons) 1972 film ZEE & CO (now a camp trash classic). She sat in front of me once at the theatre, at the Royal Court for Jill Bennett's HEDDA GABLER which I think she translated or adapted, in the '70s. As per previous posts I WAS HAPPY HERE with Sarah Miles was a lovely re-discovery last year. 

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