Actor, comedian, and author Tara Flynn will be one of the speakers at Looking at the Stars
– readings from a new anthology of Irish writing which aims to raise €15,000 for the Simon Community. We chatted with the whip-smart author of You’re Grand: the Irishwoman’s Secret Guide to Life
and Giving Out Yards: the Art of Complaint, Irish Style
(Hachette) about books, campaigning, and the art of giving out.
Q. Why did you decide to contribute to the anthology, Looking at the Stars?
This is an amazing collection of writing and it’s brilliant to be a part of it. I’m more usually campaigning for Repeal the 8th, but you cannot live in a big city and not be aware of the homelessness crisis. I was lucky to have the chance to help in a creative and concrete way.
Q. Your last book, Giving Out Yards: the Art of Complaint, brilliantly captured a national art form. What do you find yourself giving out about most?
Campaigning for Repeal the 8th is like a formalised giving out! We need to tell our own stories about abortion in Ireland so that these experiences won’t happen to anybody else. I give out most about the way women are treated in Ireland. We’ve come so far: we can order pints now and everything! But we’re not equal when we don’t have autonomy over our own bodies. Think about what is said about women in the Constitution: it seeps out into broader society and makes it hard for us to be viewed equally. We’re living in a fantasy land in Ireland when we’re not speaking about abortion and pretending it’s not happening. We need to stop pretending.
Q. What have you read recently that’s really excited you?
That’s a horrible question, there are so many books! I loved Neil Hegarty’s novel, Inch Levels and Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me. As a comedian, Tina Fey’s Bossypants is one book I always go back to. But a real eye-opener was Anne L. Barstow’s Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts. It explores how pressure to change sexual customs in Reformation Europe led to a witch hunt: 100,000 people were just made to go away. It’s a fascinating and terrifying book, and it’s so, so sad – it’s a brilliantly written history of women’s rights.