Thanks to my fellow blogger Total Feckin' Eejit for sending me Frothy Tales by Costa Coffee Writer-in-Residence Davey Spens. We don't have Costa in this neck of the woods but I've always admired their support of literature.
Lucky Davey decided in November 2007 (!) to leave his job and write a novel. Somehow he landed the job of first ever Writer-in-Residence at Costa and, as part of that, he wrote his Frothy Tales, most of which are amusing flashes based on his observance of coffee drinkers. They are light, fluffy and bite-sized, but the book only costs €1.50, and the proceeds go to improve the lot of coffee growers.
In other Costa-related news, Sebastian Barry has won the overall Costa Award - Costa Book of the Year - for The Secret Scripture. Yay! Well done, man. But it was irritating to hear Arts Minister Martin Cullen saying: “The award is due recognition for the incredible talent and creativity that has been fostered by the Irish literary community."
Yes, well, the Irish literary community has gained its successes largely without the support of the State, Minister, as you cut the funding to the only Writers' Centres in the East and the West of the country, and literature in general is the poor relation in the arts. So maybe you might reconsider those cuts in the light of our writers' international reputation and support those who are still up and coming.
By way of a postscript to what I wrote above this morning, in the Irish Times today Sarah Bannan, head of literature at the Arts Council, said the award to Barry, who has received a number of grants from the Art Council in the past, was "proof that investment in the artistic community has borne fruit". Pity then that the Arts Council doesn't do more of that investing.
Fine Gael's Olivia Mitchell hit the mark more clearly when she said Barry’s win “highlights the depth of talent in Ireland’s literary community and the continuing need to aid writers”.