The Faa Side casts it’s eye this week on Drawda’s literary scene. The town has produced such bestsellers as the erotic thriller Foeteen Shades of Ballsgrove, epic political sagas such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Godfrey and the Pulitzer Prize winning medical memoir Angela’s Rashes which followed young Angela McGee’s stoic struggles with a series of unfortunate rashes in the Lourdes’ tropical disease unit.
In keeping with Drawda’s grim n’ gritty demeanour, Jimmy Durninsis Down and Out in London and Then Peeorse Paak brings readers back to the grim days of the 1980s while John B. Keane’s updated version of his famous play The Field, entitled The New Field, charted local resistance to an American trying to buy a house in the estate of the same name in the 1990s.
All Quiet on the West Street Front by Ricky ‘Maria’ Remarque charts the perils of walking across West Street on a Saturday night either alone or in a group during the Celtic Tiger years.
On the lighter side of things local legend Tommy Leddy’s lighthearted memoir Goodbye Bye Now To All That is sure to raise a chuckle. The most recent entry onto the list is year’s holiday novel The Grapes of Rathmullen, a comic novel about one man’s attempts to produce wine from his back garden in Rathmullen.
However, the two seminal novels about the town deserve more attention.
Haaat of Daakness by Joseph Conrad
Published in 1899, Haaart of Daarkness follows local turf salesman Maalow as he captains a steamer bound for Navan to investigate reports that local turf dealer Kuurtz has gone native. The deeper he goes into Meath, the darker the story becomes. Kuurtz has set himself up as some sort of God amongst the natives.
Central to Conrad’s work is the idea that there is little difference between so-called civilized people and those described as savages but this hypothesis is proven false-headed after Maalow gets to Navan and witnesses first-hand the bestial levels to which humanity can descend.
The book closes with the famous lines “The horror! The horror!” when Kuurtz realises that he’s been in that palindromic hellhole too long.
The MellChemist by Paul Rabbit
The famous Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho cut his teeth in the literary viper pit of Drawda in the 1980s. Local publishers refused to allow Coelho publish under a foreign name, accusing the writer of having ‘notions’ so he was forced to publish under the English translation of his name, Paul Rabbit or suffer the ultimate indignity for novelists – self publishing.
The Mell Chemist follows the journey of a trainee chemist from Mell. Believing a recurring dream to be prophetic, he decides to travel to a gypsy fortune teller in Duleek to discover its meaning. The gypsy tells him what he wants to hear and that there is a treasure in the maze in Navan.
So he travels there and meets lots of people, the kind of people who read self-help books and eventually he comes back and sure wasn’t the treasure in Mell all along? What was the treasure? That’s not important. The journey was important. Not as good as The Alchemist. And that’s not very good but it’s about Drawda so you should read it. So you should.