REVIEW

Anne O’LearyOn Tuesdays I’m a Buddhist, by Michael Harding.

EXTRACT:

The latest instalment in an unreliable memoir

On Tuesdays I’m a Buddhist. Michael Harding. Hachette Ireland; 235pp; £13.99 hb; 21cm; 978-1-473-62351-4.

This is Michael Harding’s fourth instalment of memoir. The first, Staring at Lakes, quicklybecame a bestseller and won the Irish Book Awards Non-Fiction Book of the Year in 2013. Hanging with the Elephant(2014)and Talking to Strangers (2017) followed, and with his success Harding was credited with creating a new genre in Irish writing, because with each book, he tours around Ireland putting on a live show that is part book reading, part stand-up comedy. All books expand his very popular weekly column in TheIrishTimes, chronicling life in the Irish midlands, and some of the people he meets at his shows might make their way into his column or his next book.

This clever marketing without any digital distractions is a perfect platform for Harding’s wry and often self-deprecating humour, which provides a cover for confronting readers with the darkness of the soul. He is a man haunted by loss and anxiety, hurt by church scandals and disillusioned by the reluctance of the Catholic Church to embrace liberal theology or philosophy. His own clerical past gnaws at him as he continues to search for existential meaning. The answers he has received from orthodox religions have failed to satisfy him, so he is still asking the questions: ‘I am still waiting for the bus or looking around to see if I am in the right shop’. Humour for him then becomes the natural voice of despair.[…]

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May/June 2018(issue no.379)


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