Reviews

Praise for Jamie O’Connell’s writing:

‘Many … will be delighted to acquire a copy of Best-Loved Joyce, Jamie O’Connell’s selection of quotations and short extracts from Joyce’s fiction, portraying the author at his most accessible. It’s a beautifully produced little volume, lavishly illustrated by Emma Byrne, with a striking cloth cover, silk bookmark, and an introduction by Bob Joyce, James Joyce’s great-nephew, who writes how “Joyce was a conjuror with words and captured the essence of all human life” – or, as a line from Finnegans Wake has it, “They lived und laughed ant loved end left”.’

The Times Literary Supplement (May 2018) on Best-Loved Joyce

 

‘a wonderful collection of political, social and cultural writing you can dip in and out of’

The Gloss (The Irish Times Magazine) ‘Summer 2017 Must Reads’ on Best-Loved Joyce

 

‘a gorgeous publication, beautifully designed. A manageable collection of quotes, it serves as an introduction to Joyce for those who have neither the time nor the inclination to tackle Ulysses … Hardback and pocket-sized, it’s almost like a precious little icon to carry around and dip in and out of when the mood takes you’

‘What is Susan Stairs Reading?’, The Irish Times, February 2018, on Best-Loved Joyce

 

‘A very enjoyable book… beautifully designed… a great introduction to [Joyce’s] genius. It’s great.’

Michael Bradley, The Arts Show, BBC Radio Ulster on Best-Loved Joyce

 

‘A beautiful and accessible introduction to the writings of James Joyce.’

irishinterest.ie on Best-Loved Joyce 

 

‘“Silencio,” a story in Jamie O’Connell’s excellent debut collection Some Sort of Beauty works wonderfully well in class as an introduction to the exuberance of Celtic Tiger Ireland. “Silencio” captures the energy of a youthful self-confidence in which affluence, attractiveness, and success are taken for granted. Four friends perceive each other through their presence on social media, a web of literary allusion, confident irony, and precise delineation: “Sebastian sighs: it is annoying that other writers have lived before him; it seems Sleeper Hits of the Irish Studies Classroom 8 like every new idea he has is simply a version of something already written. He only has to search a phrase online to discover his genius is too late.” O’Connell’s skill makes us love rather than resent these characters. Published in 2012 and set in Dublin, the story seems to reflect the overconfidence of the period before the Irish financial crash of 2008. “Old people are always complaining that his generation is shallow, but didn’t they create a country . . . where the small problems had room to become big ones, like the straightness of one’s teeth or the newness of one’s jeans?” Yet “Silencio” is no moralistic warning about complacency. It celebrates a sense of the exuberance of being carefree in an unburdened present moment.’

Professor James H Murphy, ‘Sleeper Hits of the Irish Studies Classroom’, New Hibernia Review, Autumn 2017

 

‘O’Connell writes with tenderness and attention, earnestly describing a world in which belief systems have crumbled, where families are in denial about what has destroyed them, where internet sex turns out to be just as vacuous as it sounds, and where commitment to love and friendship is often hazardous.’

The Irish Times on Some Sort of Beauty

 

‘…a fresh, engaging and powerful set of stories.’

The Sunday Independent on Some Sort of Beauty

 

‘A stunning debut from a writer of great talent and courage’

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, author of Shelter of Neighbours, on Some Sort of Beauty

 

‘…youthful, uncanny and highly sophisticated stories. “Demain” and “Some Sort of Beauty” are very sharp and very thorough, all of it written with ink on the red stiletto’

Thomas McCarthy, poet and author of The Merchant Prince, on Some Sort of Beauty

 

‘Jamie O’Connell takes us on an exhilarating road-trip through the trials and triumphs of being young, Irish, ambitious and gay… Very enjoyable. Remarkable for a first book. Great things may be forthcoming.’

Books Ireland (September 2012) on Some Sort of Beauty

 

‘immensely enjoyable and incredibly frank’

Dr Eibhear Walshe, Senior Lecturer of English Literature, University College Cork, on Some Sort of Beauty

 

‘I’ve been reading O’Connell’s book… and can attest to how well written it is. In terms of subject matter it is something brand spanking new in Irish short fiction: Celtic Tiger cubs do drugs, have gay sex, wear Prada with pride, and have secretive competitive friendships. The title story is about Jehovah’s Witnesses, surely a first in an Irish short story.’

Nuala Ní Chonchúir, author of Mother America, on Some Sort of Beauty

 

‘…lyrical, distilled, illuminating, some of them unnerving and above all, brave… O’Connell’s fiction is emotionally clear, direct, unshowy, and is the consequence of work, work and more work, as well as huge talent.’

James Ryan, University College Dublin, on Some Sort of Beauty

 

‘…there is a cadence to his debut: a rise and levelling and fall, melodies which recur, a satisfying tempo…a broadly harmonious collection, and my admiration is wholehearted.’

Sara Baume, Southword Journal, on Some Sort of Beauty

 

‘…the power of the book is in the perspectives it chooses, and the very direct way in which O’Connell goes straight to the emotional centre of each story. Family, love, travel, art, sex – he dives straight in there and he has something to say about all of them. This is a good book, from a writer with a great future.’

Keith Ridgway, author of Hawthorn & Child, on Some Sort of Beauty

 

‘Some stories stay with you, and this was one of those stories… with a voice comparable to those created by Roddy Doyle or Pat McCabe.’

Michael O’ Ruairc, writer and historian, introducing ‘On Eating Grass’ (taken from Some Sort of Beauty) at the Irish Writers’ Centre (Spring 2011)

 

‘an impressive maturity of insight and control of language.’’

Kevin Power, author of Bad Day in Blackrock, on A Curious Impulse

 

‘Spuds and the Spider is a story about unlikely friendship, why you should not judge someone based on their looks and how one good turn deserves another. Children will enjoy this entertaining tale full of icky insects and talk of stomping and crushing.’

The Irish Catholic on Spuds and the Spider