Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All Things Irish and Blake Butler

I subscribe to Irish Central Newsletter and thought I'd share some highlights from its latest issue:

The Black Stuff:
Guinness stout celebrates its 250th anniversary tomorrow, September 24th. World-famous, Guinness is the biggest-selling brew in Africa and the Guinness Brewery in Dublin is one of Ireland's largest tourist attractions. I don't drink the stout myself, but I did work in Guinness Brewery in Dublin and it was one of the best employers I've ever had. I only left Guinness to return to San Francisco, and a certain man. So cheers to Guinness and Guinness-lovers everywhere.

Australia Bound:
Australia has become the latest number one destination for those fleeing the recession in Ireland. The Australian Government has issued 22,788 visas for the year to June 2009, up by 33 percent from 17,120 in the year to June 2008. New figures from the Central Statistics Office through April of this year show that about 17,000 Irish have left the country, striking out for distant, more opportune shores.

It seems the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutclife, has changed his name to Peter Coonan. Sutcliffe, whose great grandfather Edward Coonan came from Tipperary in Ireland, was jailed in 1981 for the murders of 13 women.

During the 1970s/early 80s manhunt, British police arrested and questioned several Irish men because his would-be victims who managed to escape said he had an Irish accent. Now aged 63, Sutcliffe has served 28 years of a 30-year sentence and is eligible for parole next year. Did I say ugh!?

I'd say only in Ireland, but imagine it could happen anywhere:
Workers at an Irish plant are on strike because they can’t watch porn on the job (forgive the pun). The staff at Green Isle Foods in County Kildare are out on strike after three workers were fired last month for allegedly viewing “adult material” at work. The strikers have won Union support for their protest, granting them permission to picket at the Naas factory.

Further disruptions are expected if other Union members, such as suppliers and post office employees, refuse to pass the picket line. While Green Isle Foods claims the three workers breached the company’s internet policy by viewing porn, their Union says they are being scapegoated, and that the company failed to negotiate a fair disciplinary process.

Why aren't I laughing? Maybe it's because I'm still thinking about Sutcliffe. Thirty years for thirteen lives?

On To Much Happier News:
Congratulations to Blake Butler who just announced his two-book deal with Harper Perennial for a novel and a non-fiction book. I know Blake only through his work, blog, and his acceptance of my "Keys" for OCHO # 25, but I feel really happy for him. He's a writer who remained true to his writing and his vision for his work, even though he felt none of the big publishing houses would ever sign him. I can't but feel that this isn't just Blake's victory, but a victory for all writer and artists everywhere. We all need to keep doing what we need to do, and trust that everything will fall into place for us. If nothing else, we'll have integrity.


  1. Strange, strange news.

    The University here is having a massive ceilidh, which they're trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records.

    It only occurred to me TODAY that the book has something to do with the stout...!

    Frankly, I don't think they should let prisoners change their names. I know they have legal rights, but ...please.

  2. E--

    reading Le Guin (wave in the mind): "the ground of our experience is dark, and all our inventions start in that darkness. From it, some of them leap forth in fire. The imagination can transfigure the dark matter in life," from the essay "The Question I get Asked Most Often"--though I can't get a grasp on the kind of savagery you mention--or think about it for too long.

    on a lighter note, my husband-to-be lived a stint in Ireland as a kid and stateside, snuck a Guinness into my closet (in 7th grade). Bitter broth is all I remember! Congratulations on so much of your work making its way public.

  3. Tania, thanks for the Le Guin quote, and for sharing your Guinness memory. Yes Guinness can be bitter, but the best pints are cold, velvety, and savory. Always great to hear from you :-)