Saturday, December 20, 2008

Homepages: a first look

My copies of Homepages, Tales from the Irish Blogosphere arrived this morning and I abandoned the computer to sit and read. An A5 book with a lovely cover (well done Katharina), it's light enough to be carried and small enough to fit in the most carriable of man bags or under the tree at Christmas (hint, hint).

In her introduction, Catherine, compiler of the book, calls it

"Fifty stories and photographs, fifty different impressions of homes past, home comforts, homes from home and home truths."
and that it certainly is. There's a lovely scene in Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas where Jack is transfixed by the veritable feast of new things to discover. I felt the same reading this book. From the opening story Yellow Summers Behind The Wall from OneForTheRoad right through the 147 pages to where John Braine's Homeboy sits, I tore through the book this morning with a ferocity and hunger normally reserved for a new Discworld novel.

I've been introduced to new writers and reminded of those whose blogs I've neglected. I hadn't heard of Ann from For The Long Run, whose farewell to her house evoked strong memories of all the houses I've moved from. The Kitchen in Thomastown photo by Catríona Dwyer could have been taken in my next door neighbours. Devin Mungovan's The Return of the Queen, John Butler's tale of LA, The Most Exclusive Prison Cell in the World, Beth Morrissey's Home Is Where The Heart Is and Elizabeth Hutchinson's Egyptian Space Invaders all convinced me to go add their feeds to my reader, to find out what else they've done.

Equally the name of friends and familiar bloggers appear. Darren's Talbot Street, Grannymar's The Light Went Out, K8's House Proud, Annie's He is a dog, not a human, Gray Wright's Tonight I'm Going Out and Sharon's Learning at Home with Autism are all posts I remember from their blogs, but somehow, as with my own inclusion The First Time, seeing them in print, in book form, away from the screen somehow changes them, adds gravity, exposes them for the quality pieces they really are, rather than just "another blog post" on a blog.

Similarly inclusions like Andrew's Baxter, Colm's Bonfires, Twenty's Home and David Maybury's fantastic tale Landscaping served to emphasise the quality of the writers who are blogging out there, who do share their thoughts on a regular basis.

I'd love non-bloggers, those who don't understand what blogging is or indeed people who think they might like to, but lack the courage, to read this book. From Marian's O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree to Manuel's Trophy Breakfast and from photos like Red Mum's Making a Swing to Narocroc's Home Under The Stars, the collection shows the breadth of talent, the variety of interests and the opportunity everyone has to contribute something, both to the blogosphere and to worthwhile collections like this.

More than anything, it's somehow appropriate that this collection arrived today. I sat, reading and thought of home, thought of cereals and icicles, window seats and cupán tae's, of Christmas songs, of clutter and cribbage, of London, Spain, Barretstown, Blessington, Graiguenamanagh, Blanchardstown and Dorset Street, all places I've lived in the years since I met my biological mother for the first time. It's the five year anniversary today. I'll send her a copy.

You've probably seen the link to buy on enough blogs now to know where to go. However, I'd invite you to think about the people who won't get the chance to read this, who don't have a home, those people for whom this book is more important, because it's funding their survival on the streets. Focus Ireland, like so many other deserving charities need your support, so getting a collection of quality writing into the bargain is no bad thing either.

Buy and have a read. Tell people about it.


  1. I'm still waiting for my copies to arrive. I'm really looking forward to it because there are some great writers and photographers included. It'll bring lots of pleasure to those reading it during the holidays, and even better, will help people without homes and who need a break.

  2. Great review as ever Darragh!

    It is like the valley of the squinting windows here as I watch for the postman to arrive with mine.

    Darragh while reading this post I could picture you, sitting in your kitchen with legs tucked under you in your own unique way and lost in the pages of the book.... am I right?

  3. Nice review Darragh, and thanks for putting me with such esteemed company.
    My copy arrived today and, like you, I've torn into it and discovered a few people I didn't know. Good luck trying to add John Butler to your feed-reader though, he retired from blogging a few months ago and deleted the entire archives of Lozenge. He does still write a weekly column in the Irish Times magazine, but you probably know that.

  4. Best review I've seen so far Darragh, and not just because I get a mention. I've yet to see mine in print yet so this only makes me more anxious for my copies to arrive and more excited to dig in just as you have. Surely this can only be the start of more things to come.

  5. Thanks for the review Darragh - although I fear it's too late for Christmas shipping now, the fastest of the Standard shipping deliveries I heard of was five days. It's not an especially Christmassy book though, all told, so it'll still be good for gifts in the new year!

  6. I'll pick up a copy over xmas. Thanks for the heads up Darragh