Book Review: A Man with One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell.

Time for a book review!

A Man with One of Those Faces is the debut novel from comedian Caimh McDonnell. A crime thriller set in Ireland, it follows title character Paul Mulchrone as his “one face fits all” look gets him into more trouble than he can handle.

Now. I’m not a crime addict. I had better put that up front. I’ve not read much crime fiction, unless you count the Watch books in Terry Pratchett, and as for “true crime” I get enough of the interesting and boring bits in together by reading medieval court cases. My boyfriend is  a fan of police procedural dramas but even those I can take or leave. So you must realise how much of a nice surprise it was for me that I absolutely loved this book. I was at a wedding over the weekend and I was sad that I couldn’t pack it in my bag to take it to the wedding, and it I picked it up and read it right to the end the minute I got back from the party. That’s crazy levels of book obsession right there.

McDonnell has written an utter triumph of a thing. His writing stays perfectly poised between buttock-clenching suspense (not a book to read on the toilet) and the wonderful humour he has developed over his years on the comedy circuit. In his first foray into novel writing from comedy it’d be very easy to overdo the jokes but while the jokes puncture the suspense they do not mar it in any way. I don’t know if “humorous crime” (as in, not straight up parody) is already a genre but regardless McDonnell has unequivocally stuck the flag in and claimed it for Ireland.

The Irishness of the book is something that should also be praised. If you are from Ireland, have lived there or – like me – have Irish relatives that just won’t quit, the novel is a wealth of observational charm and humour. That said, even if you have no contact with Ireland the effect is welcoming rather than exclusionary. The skill that it takes to weave in-jokes into a narrative and not alienate those that aren’t part of them cannot be underestimated and McDonnell does it with a warmth I’m pretty sure I couldn’t manage.

The characters are on occasion the kind of stereotypes you would expect from a crime novel, but they are also so much more than their familiar aspects and are interspersed among characters you couldn’t predict for the life of you. Add this to a plot that keeps you relentlessly on the edge, and you’ve got a book I highly recommend and need the sequel to immediately.

Caimh McDonnell, A Man with One of Those FacesMcFori Ink Publishing, available for £7.99 on Amazon:




Not-Nursery Rhymes: Monday’s Child

I am quite bored, okay? So fecking about with Nursery Rhymes it is.

Monday’s Child is fond of bass
Tuesday’s Child’s a hopeless case
Wednesday’s Child is full of shit
Thursday’s Child is not a hit
Friday’s Child is just so-so
Saturday’s Child has an extra toe
And Sunday’s Child says he’ll go to heaven
– It’s what you get if you clone one kid into seven.

Not-Nursery Rhymes: Little Boy Blue

I like nursery rhymes. And I like playing with them. And so, here is my own version of Little Boy Blue.

Little boy blue
Won’t blow on his horn
But sits at the window
Looking out at the corn
That sways in the breeze
On a backdrop of trees
In the noontime – he slept through the morn.

Little boy blue
Plays music no more:
It brings him no joy
While his soul is at war.
Instead a small sigh
Is the sound he lives by,
Though he doesn’t know what he sighs for.

Little boy blue,
Please darling, don’t cry
– Let’s go to the meadow
And sit, you and I.
And know it’s okay
To feel sad, or dismay:
Just remember that it will pass by.

15 reasons to definitely not date a comedian.

Okay. So I was on facebook the other day (the way most stories start). And there, under someone’s name, was this article, written for women:

15 Reasons to date a Comedian

Now, many of you won’t want to read the article. And that is entirely justified, because it’s a load of crap. Evidence of this is surely reason #10:
 “Comedians share their life stories with strangers every night. They’re good communicators and are willing to be vulnerable with others.”

All I could think while reading it was “Well, this just isn’t right” – not only because I myself do stand up (and as a lady I resent the assumption in this article that comedians are all men), but because I also date another (more successful than myself) stand up comedian. And all that reading this article made me think is that the person writing it either a) is a comedian who’s desperate to get a girlfriend, b) has wildly idealised the idea of dating a comedian, or c) has FUCK ALL idea of what they’re talking about. Because all of these reasons that this person puts forward are negatives as well as positives. And I can tell you, unless you know exactly what you’re getting into, no one in their right mind would ever want to date a comedian ever. And here, using e-harmony’s own 15 reasons, is why: Continue reading

An Open Letter to Michael Gove, Education Secretary.

Dear Mr Gove,

It has been a busy month for education so far – September always is. Particularly in my house as me and my family are now in all levels of education: my littlest sister in primary, my brother in secondary, my sisters in further, me in higher and my mum is an academic. We are an education household, if you will. We are all into different subjects and despite being the same family we all have very different educational needs. And so the fact that all of us have, are or will be in some way being failed by your persistent and sweeping changes in education policy  and, for want of a better phrase, “the system” in general is pretty telling. Continue reading

Why Study Chaucer? – A kind of informal essay type thingy…

“What makes Chaucer so… studiable?”

My friend asked me this question on a car journey on Sunday, and I didn’t give him the brilliant and comprehensive answer I think he was hoping for. This is for a few reasons, mainly revolving around the fact that we were in a car, on a Sunday, with me slightly hungover. Also involved was the fact that such an answer needs thinking about, and anything longer than the one I’d given was likely to have bored him to death. But it is a really good question. Really good. And one which does deserve a real answer. Why do all the cool kids want to study Chaucer? (Yeah, that’s right, all of us.)

chaucer and ms

Chaucer, on a tiny horse… like a boss.

Continue reading