Rememberings review: Sinéad O'Connor is both funny and forgiving

Rememberings

Sinéad O’Connor                                                                                  Sandycove £20

Rating:

Sinéad O’Connor became a superstar in 1990 thanks to Nothing Compares 2 U, a song written by Prince but made unforgettable by the young Irish woman who sang it.

DATA PENGELUARAN TOGEL SINGAPURA JITU HARI INI - ANGKA TOGEL SINGAPORE HARI INIIf the musical alchemy was electric, the pair’s personal chemistry was toxic.

They met twice. After the second occasion, writes O’Connor, ‘I never wanted to see that devil again’. Having summoned her to his spooky LA retreat, Prince told her off for swearing, sneaked an object ‘designed to hurt’ inside his pillow during a pillow fight and followed her in his car when she eventually ran from the building, fearing for her safety.

It’s just one traumatic encounter in a life filled with them.

Although she died when O’Connor was 18, her mother’s misdeeds hover over the book like a haunting. Returning from school, O’Connor pretends to have lost her hockey stick, ‘because I know my mother will hit me with it all summer if I bring it home’.

Sinéad O'Connor (above in 1995) became a superstar in 1990 thanks to Nothing Compares 2 U, a song written by Prince but made unforgettable by the young Irish woman who sang it

Sinéad O'Connor (above in 1995) became a superstar in 1990 thanks to Nothing Compares 2 U, a song written by Prince but made unforgettable by the young Irish woman who sang it

Sinéad O’Connor (above in 1995) became a superstar in 1990 thanks to Nothing Compares 2 U, a song written by Prince but made unforgettable by the young Irish woman who sang it

The mental and physical abuse she suffered within a highly dysfunctional domestic set-up movingly contextualises O’Connor’s recurring mental health struggles, intensely personal songs, as well as the 1992 incident that ‘derailed’ her career: ripping up a photo of Pope John Paul II live on American TV in protest at the Catholic Church covering up child abuse. 

‘I’m a punk,’ she explains, perhaps unnecessarily.

‘Not a pop star.’

If all this sounds like hard work for the reader, it isn’t. O’Connor is both funny and forgiving, and her rage and grief are free from self-pity. The path from Dublin to London and fame is recounted in brief, vivid episodes. 

O'Connor is both funny and forgiving, and her rage and grief are free from self-pity (above, the at home in Ireland. The singer converted to Islam in 2018)

O'Connor is both funny and forgiving, and her rage and grief are free from self-pity (above, the at home in Ireland. The singer converted to Islam in 2018)

O’Connor is both funny and forgiving, and her rage and grief are free from self-pity (above, the at home in Ireland.

The singer converted to Islam in 2018)

She hangs out with Rastafarian crime lords in New York clubs, talks candidly about drugs – she hated cocaine and heroin, but ‘weed I’ve liked too much’ – and remembers the early days of touring with earthy fondness: ‘It was nothing but sex.’

Indeed, Keluaran HK. Togel HK her complex love life takes up rather a lot of space.

‘I have four children by four different fathers, only one of whom I married, and I married three other men, none of whom are the fathers of my children.’ 

An affair with Peter Gabriel is dismissed with hilarious bluntness.

Later, she recalls how she and Daniel Day-Lewis ‘were getting very friendly until I blew the friendship by losing my temper with him one night in a crazy way’.

On this and other occasions, the reader is left to fill in the blanks.

Despite its title, Rememberings is not the whole story. Much has been either forgotten or omitted. In 2015 O’Connor suffered a ‘total breakdown’ following surgery for a radical hysterectomy. 

This affected her memory – everything after 1992 is a jumble – as well as her career: when she left hospital she had only £8,000 in the bank.

A new record and tour are in the works, which is welcome news.

Making music, it’s clear, has saved her. ‘If anyone wants to truly know me,’ she writes, ‘the best way is through the songs.’

While that may be true, Rememberings brings the complicated woman who wrote them a little closer.

 

The Foghorn’s Lament: The Disappearing Music Of The Coast

Jennifer Lucy Allan                                                    White Rabbit Books £16.99

Rating:

One evening in the 1850s, a widowed ship engineer called Robert Foulis was walking along the shore in his home town of St John, Canada.

It was foggy, and Foulis’s mind was on the ships lost in the mists out at sea.

In those days, shipwrecks in which tens and hundreds of people died were shockingly common, and the world’s greatest maritime minds were applied to improving coastal warning systems. 

On that particular night, Foulis made a breakthrough when he heard his daughter playing the piano at home.

The lower notes, he noticed, carried better through the fog than the higher ones. 

He applied this observation to a new machine that would use one low note to warn ships away from fog-bound land.

The first of Foulis’s foghorns was installed off the St John coast in 1859, and the rest is a low, sonorous and strangely moving history, recounted in Radio 3 presenter Jennifer Lucy Allan’s wonderful, windswept book.

Allan recounts the subsequent story of Foulis’s invention (inevitably, the origin is contested), and of her own obsession with these machine-driven instruments with an engaging humour, meticulous research and a lightness of touch. 

The subject may be obscure, but she rightly observes that the sound of the foghorn is bound up with Britain’s maritime history, and a sort of misty coastal melancholy that feels peculiar to this country.

This could have a been a pretentious book, and when analysing the appeal of the foghorn’s lonely bass notes, the book does occasionally drift into the rocks of introspection and corners of the pseud. 

But as an evocation of a time when much of the life of our isles depended on a close relationship with the sea and its dangers, however, it is a marvel, as unexpectedly rich and moving as its subject’s sound.

Richard Benson 

Burning Man: The Ascent Of D.

H. Lawrence

Frances Wilson                                                                    Bloomsbury Circus £25

Rating:

As a history undergraduate in the 1980s, studying literature as a historical source, I read D.

H. Lawrence’s novels.

No one else was reading him by then, or no one I knew, and certainly not women. He was dismissed as obsolete, a posturing misogynist whose insistent carnality and primal spiritual yearnings were not just floridly overblown but faintly cringeworthy. 

But he was always a writer who provoked extreme reactions.

Both censored and worshipped in his own lifetime, in the 1950s he was anointed by the critic F. R. Leavis who declared him ‘the great genius of our time’. 

The infamous obscenity trial of Penguin and Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1960 recast D. H. Lawrence as a poster boy for the sexual revolution

The infamous obscenity trial of Penguin and Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1960 recast D. H. Lawrence as a poster boy for the sexual revolution

The infamous obscenity trial of Penguin and Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960 recast D.

H. Lawrence as a poster boy for the sexual revolution

The infamous obscenity trial of Penguin and Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960 recast him as a poster boy for the sexual revolution, before he was toppled by Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics, which skewered him for his chauvinism. 

His reputation never properly recovered.

‘Lawrence is still on trial,’ Frances Wilson acknowledges in her introduction to this book but, although she is a self-confessed Lawrentian, Burning Man is by no means a straightforward case for the defence. 

She describes it as ‘a work of non-fiction which is also a work of imagination’.

Its focus is Lawrence’s middle years, ‘the decade of superhuman energy and productivity’ from 1915, when The Rainbow was successfully prosecuted for obscenity, to 1925 when Lawrence, aged 40, was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Wilson has structured the book to mirror Dante’s Divine Comedy: ‘Inferno’ covers Lawrence’s years in England during the war, ‘Purgatory’ Italy post-Armistice, and ‘Paradise’ Ceylon, Australia and New Mexico. 

The conceit is not entirely successful, mostly because Lawrence’s travels consistently failed to bring him spiritual fulfilment.

‘I love trying things,’ he wrote in 1922, ‘and discovering how much I hate them.’

Everyone Lawrence knew was recycled in his fiction and he did not pull his punches. Two of his friends threatened to sue the publishers of Women In Love for libel.

But, as Wilson makes gloriously clear, it was Lawrence who was always Lawrence’s main subject. 

He was a mass of contradictions: the self-anointed priest of love who hated to be touched, the nomad eternally disappointed by travel, Pengeluaran HK the evangelist of wonder cramped by his own meanness of spirit. 

While noting the ‘emotional combustibility’ of consumptives, Wilson accepts that at his best, Lawrence was impossible and at his worst, positively poisonous.

‘I loathe you,’ he wrote to Katherine Mansfield when she was dying. 

‘You revolt me, stewing in your consumption.’ He was a man who never performed a generous act he didn’t later attempt to subvert or undo. Friendships, passionately begun, disintegrated into bitter arguments and scathing invective. 

His ferocity could be startling.

The writer Norman Douglas described him as ‘one of the most envy-bitten mortals I have ever known’.

Wilson does not attempt to excuse Lawrence his misanthropy. Instead she mounts a quietly relentless defence of his lesser work.

His genius, for her, is not contained within his ‘superbly imperfect, uneven and self-sabotaging’ novels but in his largely forgotten travel writings and in his lyric poetry. 

She lets Lawrence’s own words make the case for him and, despite everything, they do.

I have never read Lawrence’s poetry or travel writings. I shall now.

Clare Clark

 

Evita Burned Down Our Pavilion

Timothy Abraham and James Coyne                                         Constable £20

Rating:

Evita burned down our pavilion’ might seem an unlikely claim, even in a sport famous for its factual and statistical curios, but Latin America is no ordinary region.

Cricket nuts Timothy Abraham and James Coyne have travelled throughout it to chronicle the history of the summer game there.

From the beaches of Rio to Chile’s Atacama Desert, they seek out lost grounds and descendants of once-famous players. 

They even play a few games themselves.

In 1947 Eva Peron (above), the First Lady of Argentina, ordered the destruction of the Buenos Aires Cricket Club pavilion after the club refused to hand over its premises to her

In 1947 Eva Peron (above), the First Lady of Argentina, ordered the destruction of the Buenos Aires Cricket Club pavilion after the club refused to hand over its premises to her

In 1947 Eva Peron (above), the First Lady of Argentina, ordered the destruction of the Buenos Aires Cricket Club pavilion after the club refused to hand over its premises to her

Football may be king in Latin America but cricket has been played there for 150 years.

When England and Australia played their inaugural Test match in 1877, Uruguay and Argentina had already been contesting their own derby for Pengeluaran HK a decade. 

The game was introduced by British engineers and entrepreneurs and eventually embraced by the local population (as witnessed by one ancient scorecard that records ‘Jesus bowled Heaven 1′).

In Colombia, the authors uncover the wicket-keeping exploits of the illegitimate son of drug lord Pablo Escobar (he would tie lengths of thread to the bails and pull them off as the ball whistled past the stumps). 

In Chile they hear tales of the infamous General Pinochet once padding up for a match (both his grandsons were useful cricketers).

For games between Brazil and Peru the protagonists play not for a tiny urn, but for a Thermos flask.

This is a highly entertaining read, deftly melding social history with sporting memoir and travelogue.

Oh and yes, in 1947 Eva Peron, the First Lady of Argentina, ordered the destruction of the Buenos Aires Cricket Club pavilion after the club refused to hand over its premises to her social welfare fund.

Michael Simkins  

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