R. Brandon Kershner
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we caught up with Kershner, an expert on Irish literature, who is currently serving as a trustee of the International James Joyce Foundation. Kershner, the recipient of the 1999 University of Florida Alumni Professor of English award, holds a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins writing seminars and a Ph.D. in English and comparative literature from Stanford University. He has been a member of the UF faculty since 1971 and is the author of Dylan Thomas: The Poet and His Critics; Joyce, Bakhtin, and Popular Literature, which won the 1990 award in literary criticism from the American Conference for Irish Studies; and The Twentieth-Century Novel: An Introduction. He is the editor of the critical edition of Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in the Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism series and two collections of essays, Joyce and Popular Culture and Cultural Studies of James Joyce.
What's on your nightstand?
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright. A Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry. It's about an Irish soldier in World War I. And Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks. I recommend all three. The Barry because it's beautifully written and tackles a period of Irish history not much discussed. The other two because of their content.
For St. Patrick's Day, what book or short story would you most encourage readers to enjoy?
James Joyce's Dubliners.
What advice do you give someone who has never set eyes on a James Joyce work before?
Get a well-edited version, with notes that explain all the references you might want to know. My Bedford Books edition of Joyce's Portrait, for example.
Is there a particular Irish author (other than Joyce) you would recommend to our readers?
One of my favorite contemporary Irish authors is Barry McCrea.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.