Penguin Sandycove €15.99
When TV architect Dermot Bannon bought and renovated a house for himself and his family, the telly ratings went through the roof. When Irish Times columnist and journalist Patrick Freyne wrote about it shortly afterwards, his article did the same. In fact, the column might have beaten the TV episode. It was time for a book from Mr Freyne and here it is.
This series of essays offers the reader snapshots of Freyne’s life, from his childhood days as the son of an army commando, through his wilderness student years and his time as a musician in a band. The thread holding everything together is Freyne’s trademark wit. Lots of the passages are bawl-out-loud funny (warning: the details of a drunken phone call home from Germany, made by his student friend who’d just gotten himself a summer job, is not to be read on public transport lest one gets oneself chucked off the bus).
But Freyne also describes his bouts of depression in prose that’s as clean as a bullet and stripped of everything except bald, intimate honesty. We’ve had some exceptional essay collections in recent years from the likes of Emilie Pine, Ian Maleny and Sinéad Gleeson. Freyne’s collection stands tall among them; it too is exceptional, and has been shortlisted for an An Post Irish Book Award. Humane, sincere – and extremely funny.