Lit Review | 8 | The Snowman

Raymond Briggs | The Snowman


Graphic novelist Raymond Briggs has been explaining how he created his story of Father Christmas. First of all, he imagined his characters by taking something fantastical and picturing it as completely real. In creating his characters, Briggs thought about how they behave, where they live, and what it’s like to be them. This way of thinking resulted in the creation of both Father Christmas and Briggs’ much loved children’s tale The Snowman.

In the author’s own words: ‘People often come up to me, in shops or in the street, to say: “Oh, Mr Briggs, I just have to say how much we love your books! Our children had them, and now our grandchildren are reading them.” It’s staggering. It almost brings me to tears. To know your books have been loved across two generations is the biggest compliment an author can have.’


Isn’t tea great?


In Portrait of a Lady, Henry James said ‘there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hours dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.’ International Tea Day took place this week and the Guardian celebrated this joyous occasion with a very amusing selection of stories revolving around tea lovers. Not all of us have the luxury of whiling away the hours over tea but it does provide immense comfort for so many of us. Most of the best stories are told near a tea pot. Sure, even Proust couldn’t enjoy his madelines without dipping them into a decent brew.


Harry Potter Updates


When quizzed by fans on Twitter this week about what her favourite quote from the Harry Potter saga was, J.K Rowling shared the following: ‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’ This was a wonderful way of acknowledging how important readers’ imaginations are in bringing her stories to life. When a Jewish fan asked whether Rowling ever imagined Jewish students attending Hogwarts, Rowling assured her fans that Hogwarts was inclusive of everyone, apart from Wiccans. Poor Wiccans.


In further Harry Potter news, 190 Harry Potter fanatics will attend the Czocha school of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Poland next April. Over four days, students will immerse themselves in the world of wizardry where they will be sorted into houses, don robes and cast magic spells. You’ll be hard pushed to find a Wiccan there, though.


Pick Up A Classic – Any Classic!


Books are wonderful. They tap into the imagination; they teach us things about ourselves and others; they help our brain cogs to keep ticking. Therefore, it is simply madness that you wouldn’t treat your loved ones to such a special gift this Christmas but if you are uncertain of where to start and find yourself growing frantic, consult this helpful list from Bob Johnston of The Gutter Bookshop.


The Evolution of Christmas

A new book entitled Christmas: The Sacred to Santa explores a variety of traditional figures and stories associated with Christmas. Written by Tara Moore, a lecturer in Penn State University, the book questions the frictions between the sacred and the secular Christmas celebration, and explores the journey from these older stories to the effect Christmas has on popular culture today.


A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, Eimear McBride, Best book covers of 2014, The New Yorker-HeadStuff.orgTime To Judge Some Books By Their Covers

The New Yorker picks some beautifully designed book covers from 2014.


Tell Your Kids Stories About Where They Come From

Michelle and Derek Melville have been discussing their new children’s publishing company Eire’s Kids. These books teach Irish children about their heritage and culture with amusing appearances from robots and space travellers. The creative duo recognise how important it is to find a niche in the market: ‘Ours is of course our Irishness.’


Salman Rushdie: ‘Literature happens at the level of the sentence’


Symphony Space Selected Shorts took place this week with audiences being treated to readings of short stories written by renowned authors. Salman Rushdie, who attended to hear the actor Blythe Danner read his short story, commented on the art of storytelling saying:

“A good story is one that makes you want to listen… The art of telling a story is keeping an audience sitting there and from throwing things at you.” Blythe must have done a good job, as Rushdie remained seated throughout her performance and refrained from throwing the large bag of oranges he had brought along, just in case.



Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

A new app features every single one of Dr. Seuss’s 55 stories. Ever. Personally, I prefer the books. But for those of you who are app fanatics and prefer computer screens to books, then you can’t go wrong with this.


Outhouse Library, Dublin. Resource for LGBT readers Dublin, queer space-HeadStuff.orgOuthouse Library Gets A New Lease Of Life.

Outhouse is a not-for-profit-social centre in Dublin which has supported LGBT people in a variety of ways since it opened in 1996. Ciaran Clarke, who initially started volunteering at the centre, saw great potential in the library there and took up an internship with the aim to give it a new lease of life. The library has now opened its doors to members for free, and it has been stocked with a new selection of LGBT books, something that was sorely lacking in our capital until now. Clarke has also established A Queer Story, a book club which runs from the library at Outhouse. He hopes that queer writers will come and give readings of their work there, making the space a hub for LGBT literature and writers.