Books In Brief

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The Independent Culture
The Picador Book of Contemporary Irish Fiction, ed Dermot Bolger, pounds 14.99.

The blatant charlatanism of the image plastered iconically over three surfaces of this book - a half-naked Marilyn Monroe pretending to read Ulysses - is all the more inappropriate since Dermot Bolger's declared intention is to subvert the various patronising formulas which have been used to marginalise Irish fiction (the short story as the national art form, etc) and expose a new school of writers 'who share almost nothing in common (sic) except originality'.

The 46 pieces included here make up an inspiring grab-bag which will lead many readers on to new discoveries, but some of the claims he makes - such as that the only tradition these voices share is 'the obvious one of generally using the English language far better than anybody else' - smack more of complacent hyperbole than the Euro-credentials Bolger is so anxious to flaunt.