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New reviews

From Powell’s Books online store:

 Mollie, January 12, 2011

One of the funniest books I ever read in my life–and I am hard to please. It’s right up there with “Lucky Jim” and “Whisky Galore.” Mary Pat certainly knows her way around Irish music and Irish musicians, and she can spin a yarn with the best of them–Dante included. A band of traditional Irish musicians gets lost on the way to a St. Patrick’s Day gig in upstate New York and spends the next few days trying to get back to reality. On the way, they encounter pukas, little girl step dancers, tyrannical Comhaltas session players, clueless and keyless singers of “Danny Boy,” and even Danu herself (maybe…), all the while defending themselves from offerings of corned beef and cabbage by the locals. The structure of the story is frankly, and with tongue-in-cheek apologies, taken from The Inferno, but the style is completely picaresque. The climax is a hallucinatory brawl featuring all the characters the band has encountered, and ending with an epiphanic parody so hilarious that I couldn’t catch my breath for several minutes, I was laughing so hard. A novel Flann O’Brien would have been proud to write.

From BigAl’s Books & Pals review blog, March 24, 2011

Rating: **** Four stars

Murphy was Irish. It seems fitting that his law would apply so well to the characters of 3/17. In what is described as a “loose parody of Dante’s Inferno,” Irish Trad Band Slí na Fírinne (which means “path of truth”) go on their first American tour in upstate New York. Before reaching their first gig they slide off the road in a snowstorm – an accident that might have been prevented if they had paid attention to their seemingly possessed GPS. From there, it only gets worse.

What follows is a nightmare that gets progressively worse. Missed gigs, cultural clashes – especially with those who think they understand Irish culture, and plenty of gigs from hell (none of which were those originally booked). Although almost anyone capable of laughing at Murphy gone amok should enjoy 3/17, it should especially ring true for musicians, or anyone who has observed artistic types trying to put food on the table.

FYI:

You’ll find a lot of Gaeilge words (the Irish language) used. For some, like eejit, the meaning might be obvious. Some you’ll figure out from context. For all, the handy lexicon in the back is available to help.