Sunday, March 15, 2015

(#163-1) March 15 2015. I don’t write enough about my fellow authors—partly because I haven’t been reading enough books recently. E-mail is a time thief. I’m trying to rebalance. Books are essential to my life. One way or another, they practically are my life.




I first encountered Peter as a reader. I not only write thrillers, but love to read them—and was decidedly impressed by Peter’s work.

“This guy is good,” I thought—and was mildly jealous, though mostly admiring.

I kept an eye out for future Peter Cunningham thrillers, but they didn’t appear. Later, I was to find out that a family tragedy had affected Peter so deeply that couldn’t write his thoroughly entertaining escapist books for a while.

Instead, he adopted a more literary style and wrote work of great depth and substance. Now, enough time has passed so he does both. He can and does impress, move, stir, and amuse. He is a literary talent up there in the world class tradition that Ireland is justifiably so proud of.

My close friend and mentor, Niall Fallon—one of the finest human beings I have met in my life, and now sadly dead way ahead off his time—was very keen I meet Peter—and eventually I did. He and his family lived up to, and surpassed all my expectations.

It must have been nearly 20 years ago because I recall entertaining all and sundry with Army MREs that I had acquired when spending time in the Mojave Desert with the U.S. Army. The intriguing thing about MREs is not the quality of the food (it would constipate a crocodile) but the fact that the main course is self-heating. You pour in water, a chemical reaction ensues—and you have hot spaghetti or whatever. Doing this at night, without light, outside in a freezing cold desert is an interesting experience.

Well, enough about MRE’s. Peter is the subject at hand—and I can but suggest you read the following—he is an exceptional talent—and then rush out and buy his books.

The Number One Bestseller, Winner of the Prix de l’Europe 2013 (as La Mer et La Silence), and the Prix Caillou, it has attracted significant critical attention and praise on both sides of the Atlantic.
"You think of yourself as a moderately well-read person. And then you come across a book so brilliant, so moving, so enchanting, by an author you had not even heard of, and your world is henceforth altered. You feel a bit like John Keats when he came across a translation of Homer that knocked him out: "Then felt I like some watcher of the skies / When a new planet swims into his ken."

For me, that new planet is "The Sea and the Silence," a new novel by Irish writer Peter Cunningham. "The Sea and the Silence" is a love story, and a war story, and it's beautifully told in that lilting, lowkey style that syncopates the work of so many great Irish writers, such as William Trevor, John McGahern and John Banville: "As I stared, by one of those miracles of light, the sea shone as if all the silver of the world was buried just beneath its surface."

The last 20 or so pages will hold you especially spellbound. You can sense what's going to happen but not how — and that, come to think of it, is the way it is with life itself. The end is inescapable: All of us eventually die. But what we do before that moment — whom we love, how we live — is the subject of this brutal, luminous, unforgettable book.
- Pulitzer Prize winning author Julia Keller

Cannot come more highly recommended. Once started it must be finished, and once read, it must be re-read.”
- Susan Connolly, Sunday Business Post Prize.

Delightful . . . as moving as it is skilfully told.”
- Sheena Davitt, Daily Mail

A book which will shorten any journey.”
- Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, Irish Times

VOR words 278.

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