I’m tempted to say that it was standing room only at bestselling Irish author Colm Tóibín’s Thursday night reading – part of U-M’s Zell Visiting Writers Series – at UMMA’s Helmut Stern Auditorium.
But that seems not quite accurate, since many attendees who didn’t arrive in time to grab one of the venue’s 185 seats instead settled themselves on the floor of both side aisles, as well as the back wall.
Yes, the place was packed, but those who carved out a space for themselves got to hear Tóibín read from his novels Brooklyn and Nora Webster while also offering additional commentary and information.
While reading sections from Brooklyn – the basis for a film that earned three major Oscar nominations (including best picture) in 2016 – Tóibín noted, “One of the interesting things is that, the earliest recordings we have of Irish traditional music mainly come from America. The best players, best fiddlers, best singers, best accordion players all came from the West of Ireland, which of course is the poorest part of the country. There were no recording studios, so they went to New York or Chicago, and people rented them recording studios by the hour.” READ THE REST HERE