No Small Feat

Two new Irish novels that both deal with the same subject have been published recently.

Laura McKenna. photo: Books Ireland Magazine

Words to Shape My Name by Laura McKenna and The Ballad of Lord Edward and Citizen Small by Neil Jordan deal with the former slave Tony Small, servant of United Irishman Lord Edward Fitzgerald.

Though both novels tell the same life-story, they couldn’t be different in tone or style. At their core, both novels concern the telling of truths and how language is used to fashion fiction out of fact, with McKenna’s in particular – her characters write, rewrite, correct, comment and edit each other’s recollections of events.

Lord Edward FitzGerald. Wikipedia

Anthony Small is a little-known figure in Irish history, but his life story is fascinating.

Portrait of Tony Small by Thomas Roberts. image:

My review of both book is published in Books Ireland here.

5 thoughts on “No Small Feat

  1. Fascinating comparison – even when there are ‘facts’ there are too many of them, and each writer’s bias shows in which ones are chosen and how they are presented. We learn about the writer as well as the subject.

    You write who you are – it’s inevitable – but how revealing you are, exactly, can vary with your intent.

    My novels are dedicated to my husband, who makes it possible in so many ways for me to write; he’s never read one – he doesn’t read fiction often.

    If he wrote a novel, I’d practically memorize it for the insight it would give me about him and how he thinks (since he’s a quiet guy). Except I don’t think he’ll ever write fiction. Rats.

    Liked by 1 person

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