Recent books in brief

Recent books in brief Dr Ronald Boyd-MacMillan
The Heart is a Noisy Room

by Dr Ronald Boyd-MacMillan (Hodder, £9.99)

The author is a Christian activist who has had an extremely varied life, but always one engaged with getting in touch with people and telling them about the “good news”. In his third book he focuses on those inner voices which we all have, sometimes positive, sometimes negative (especially in the long night watch around three in the morning).

The author wants us to be alert to those negative voices – often claiming the authority of family tradition – and to listen out for the voice that Christians can hear in the Scriptures, but often ignore.

This is his definition of the negative voice: “A voice is a persistent, powerful message, from you to yourself that persists and keeps you from embracing your true self.”

He says he often can’t read “Christian books” anymore because they take a long time getting to the point. He moves quickly and clearly through to what he wants to say: basically we need to embrace the positive. Many will find what he says truly enheartening.


Be an Irish Explorer: An Art Journal Around Ireland

by Bex Shelford (Gill Books, €9.99 / £8.99)

These days, thanks to cheap flights, many children are more familiar with Lanzarote than they are with their native island. Author Bex Shelford lives near the sea, and so is well aware of the Irish landscape that surrounds us.

Adapting the idea now used to introduce young people to museums and galleries, she aims in this holiday activity book to make them just as aware of what lies around them at home.

This book visits many different locations from Blarney to the Giant’s Causeway, but provides materials to makes postcards, colour images, and even create one’s own graphics book.

All excellent and absorbing stuff, which will encourage creativity, as well as promote an inquiring spirit. Excellent for those summer outings that, alas, can end in tears if not prepared for by parents.


Charles Bukowski and Ernest Hemingway: Barfly & Bullfighter

by Aubrey Malone (A limited edition from The Beat Scene Press, £8.00, from 27 Court Leet, Binley Woods, Coventry CV3 2JQ)

Bukowski, once called the “laureate of American low life”, may not be to everyone’s taste, though his attitudes lie somewhere in the hinterland inhabited by many of those who voted for Trump.

This short work by the IC’s film critic concerns the relations between the poet and the macho man supreme. The barfly’s dislike of the novelist echoes what others, notably Morley Callaghan, have said, but is expressed in more pungent language.

The Hemingway of the early works disappeared into a mythic dust cloud of his own making. A Catholic of some kind by conviction – the jury is still out on this – Hemingway never developed any kind of aesthetic drawn from his latent faith as did Mauriac, Waugh, or Greene. “Art”, as he saw it, got in the way of authenticity.

Malone’s little book, like Bukowski’s gritty writing, packs a lot of punch.