Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Listening to Colm Toibin on Fresh Air

I usually don't remember to listen to "Fresh Air" regularly, as listening depends on when I am in my car, whether I am currently listening to a book on CD, etc. But when I do remember at the right time, it is always both intellectually stimulating and a joy to listen to. Yesterday I stumbled on Fresh Air host Terry Gross' interview of the wonderful Irish author, Colm Toibin. I have read several of his works, most notably the novels "The Master" (a fictional version of Henry James's life) and "Brooklyn," which I posted about here on 1/28/10, and the short story collection "The Empty Family," which I posted about a year later, on 1/28/11. All of these books are absorbing, beautifully written works. On Fresh Air yesterday, Toibin was talking about his new book, "Testament of Mary," which tells a fictionalized version of the life of Mary, mother of Jesus. In that novel, he writes of Mary's doubts about whether her son was the son of God, and of her unhappiness with Jesus's disciples after his death. Toibin grew up steeped in Catholicism, an altar boy, and although he is no longer traditionally religious, he told of the influence of his Catholic childhood in Ireland. I found the interview fascinating, and enjoyed hearing Toibin's distinctive Irish accent. He now lives part of the year in Ireland and part in New York City, where he teaches at Columbia University. I am intrigued enough by the description of the book, added to the fact that I think he is a great writer, that I will likely find and read this latest novel from a great author.

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