Today we are delighted to take part in the #lovebookstour for World’s Apart. J.A Warnock our guest reviewer from the Scottish Boarders, gives you her take on the book today.
WORLDS APART: BRADY, RONAN
‘Ronan is emblematic of how Ireland has changed.’ – Panti Bliss
At just under six foot in his socks and weighing in at fourteen stone, Ronan Brady is a solid slab of rarest Roscommon meat. He has a natural tendency to throw himself about – some would say recklessly, others would say enthusiastically – into whatever he sets himself to. Ronan had a ‘normal’ childhood in Roscommon and knew by the time he was a teenager that when he grew up he wanted to play football for his county and become a teacher. Ronan had achieved his life ambition when he took up ‘Flying’ as a hobby. A hobby that transformed his life and took him to heights he never dreamed of, performing in the smash hit show Riot alongside Panti Bliss, and going on to tour the world. Worlds Apart is an open, humorous account of Ronan’s life journey.
Ronan Brady is a physical performer, aerialist and hoop artist who is recognised internationally for his expertise with the Cyr wheel. He is a native of Roscommon, where he was a teacher and played intercounty football, before embarking on his stage career.
Find out more here: https://www.ronanbrady.me/
Book Review by J.A. Warnock
As a reader, one occasionally reads a book that, due to some strange combination of internal and external factors, simply clicks. It does not happen often but when it does it is a wonderful and almost intimate experience. As a reviewer, it is problematic. My experience of such a book will be different to yours so I find myself floundering. How do I write? What do I say?
To put my review in context, I read ‘Worlds Apart’ by Ronan Brady in week ten of lockdown. My own world of manic 80 hour working weeks and metaphorical juggling has shrunk to the size of my garden giving me pause to answer one of Ronan’s questions. Was it worth it? My television/laptop screen has become my only window on the wider world. I read ‘Worlds Apart’ while watching news reels of murder, hate, fear, stupidity, solidarity and hope. I speak of both the Covid pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests which are changing the world and the way we live. The question of whether 2020 will be a lost/wasted year or the pivotal year that shocks us into a better way of living has not yet been answered.
‘Worlds Apart’ has been written in a way that gives Ronan a fabulously believable voice. My own experiences of agricultural communities, albeit in Northern Ireland, would suggest a slight over use of the work craic and massive under use of the word fu** but that is an incredibly minor point. I should add, if you are not a fan of foul language, you have nothing to fear from this book the instances are fleeting and there for good reason. This sense of voice is so strong that I felt I was listening to this story in my head as if it were a voice over on a film; it seemed to leap up from the page and assault my senses.
In its most simplistic terms, the two worlds of this book are pre and post circus. The pivotal decisions and events that took Ronan from the Brady family farm to a second (third, fifth?) career as a professional performer and author. That in itself it an interesting plot and it is told in the meandering way of any good storyteller with asides, tangents, context and background filled in or postponed as required. Elegantly entwined with his story are some very personal insights into learned behaviour, bias and prejudice. The feelings described in this book are real. You will recognise them, if not in the pink Lycra context presented, in other aspects of your life or in people you know. Most touchingly there is also hope in this book. Hope on a professional level for Ronan as he finds out where this career might take him. Performers (even ones who have managed to prise money out of the cold, dead hands of the Art Council) are among the hardness hit by lockdown and I a personal hope that his plans have not been thwarted. On a more fundamental level there is hope for society. As I type, the world is crying out for justice; for people to recognise behaviour that is wrong, to expose and punish bully tactics in business, politics and life in general. ‘Worlds Apart’ offers a small scale, personal insight into how such monsters can be created but more importantly how they can be overcome.
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