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A Great Feast of Light

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About the Author

John Doyle attended University Colleage, Dublin before emigrating to Canada in 1980.


Toronto Globe and Mail television critic Doyle makes the arrival of television in Ireland the framework for this engaging and very readable memoir about growing up in the smallest of small towns in the Emerald Isle. The book explores the familiar territory of Irish family, growing up in a small town, and the towering power of the Church in Ireland. Doyle has a way of taking something that might be mundane and even campy to American eyes (e.g., Dallas) and filling it with whole new worlds of meaning from his vantage point in time and place. He writes with a real affection for Ireland (and for the medium of television), yet it is clear from his memoir why he now resides in Canada. More an autobiography than a scholarly work, this is an optional purchase for academic libraries; public libraries will probably want it.-Felicity D. Walsh, Emory Univ., Decatur, GA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"* (A) gentle, funny book... crackles with unexpected angles, and is written with a kind of naive delight' John Carey, Sunday Times * 'A beautiful piece of writing' Gay Byrne * 'A witty and touching memoir' Irish Independent * 'I had to stop reading several times because I was laughing hysterically' Malachy McCourt * 'He writes the best kind of cultural history, based not on statistics and generalisations but on first-hand experiences' John Carey, Sunday Times"

This coming-of-age memoir is not only about the author but Ireland itself. Ireland's state-run television-called Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE)-was introduced on the last day of 1961. Doyle (now a TV critic for a Toronto newspaper), weaves tales of Bat Masterson along with everyday life in Nenagh, County Tipperary, where priests, begrudgers and busybodies prevail in a country not much changed from when Frank McCourt escaped it more than a decade before. "Nenagh was full of religion," according to Doyle, and he successfully escaped a nation where priests and the fear of sex-not to mention poverty, immigration, revolution in the north and lack of birth control and divorce-reigned by tuning in such shows as Gunsmoke and Monty Python. Doyle does a marvelous of job of dissecting the cultures of each county by what kind of programming they provided. As the book ends, we see the walls of old Ireland collapsing as the Catholic Church loses its place of prominence and new laws on birth control and divorce are introduced into the country, just as Ireland's economic prominence is in its ascendancy. A marvelous read, with keen insights and laugh-out-loud moments, that explains how Ireland, with the help of the TV set, has evolved over the past 40 years. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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