My fiance and I have been so busy that the only time we have to plan our upcoming honeymoon is while we are on a plane traveling elsewhere. Since we plan to visit Ireland & Scotland this September, we spent our flight to Kailua steeping ourselves in all things Irish (we're planning this leg first) to be sure we make the most of our visit and understand (the context, the history, etc.) the things we see. I'm only a few chapters in to my refresher overview of Irish history and I've gotten to the section on the many writers that call Ireland their homeland.
As I sit here in tropical Kailua, staring out at this lovely tiled pool that reflects the sky and the palms above it (see pic above), I'm imagining a much colder, foggier existence in Ireland. It is an odd contrast. One I relish. As I think of these Irish writers and their work, I realize that for all my own Irishness, I've not read Irish writers as widely as I possibly should have. I do loathe "should" reading, but in this case, I feel less "should" and more "want" -- I'm beginning to feel that it might be nice to make my way through several Irish (and Scottish when we begin planning the Scotland leg of the trip!) writers before I step foot in their land. In particular, Irish writers who wrote about Ireland. I can't think of a better way to "learn" about Ireland before visiting.
Of course, there is the ever-growing TBR pile that includes The Echo Maker and Against the Day and The Bastard of Istanbul and Sacred Games and Wizard of the Crow and so many other books I'm desperate to devour. Yet wouldn't it be yummy to spend the next six months reading Irish authors? Something about it feels right...although I wouldn't quite know where to begin. There is the requisite Joyce which I've read and overanalyzed plenty, yet never fully absorbed with a view to visiting the country. There's Shaw and Beckett and Yeats. Then the more recent Irish literati that includes Banville, Toibin, McCann, McGahern, Doyle and Jordan. Then all those I don't yet know of but am surely missing out on.
Where to start? Where to finish? How to find my way through the maze of Irish-born writers who've made their homes elsewhere, those who've stayed in their country and those who flit back and forth between the two? How, then, to fold in the Scottish writers as well?
It seems a tall task, one that will surely take me away from all the new books piled up on my desk waiting to be read. Yet it is a calling I cannot resist. I feel the cold wet air (yes, even in 82 degree tropical Hawaii) and the brilliant green countryside calling to me and I don't want to say no.
So: where to begin?