What should you read? Here are a couple of suggestions….

The level of commitment needed to read a book in the English language should
be balanced by the potential rewards that such an investment requires. Students,
at C1 level, should be able to confidently immerse themselves in the story
or concepts that the writer presents, without complex or unfamiliar vocabulary
becoming a barrier to comfortably enjoying the reading experience. So, where
to begin?

Although somewhat controversial, “The Butcher Boy” by Patrick McCabe is,
in my opinion, the last Irish masterpiece of the 20th century. The story,
for an international reader, is simplicity itself. An unstable young boy,
neglected and shunned by an alcoholic father and holier-than-thou community,
goes insane with tragic consequences. However, it is the natural, earthy
language that McCabe uses to develop this blackly comic tale that will stay
with you, long after the shocking ending is revealed. Based in the border
counties of Cavan and Monaghan, the book brilliantly conveys the cruel and
coded interaction that sometimes passes for conversation between Irish people.
I can’t recommend it highly enough but would suggest watching the filmed
version before approaching the text. The movie clarifies much of the colloquial
nature of the book.


Comic books are mostly aimed at a teenage or younger audience but there are
a number of titles which are very much the equal of the best in modern literature.
Alan Moore is hardly a household name but his work has brought a level of
sophistication to this medium that will, in years to come, bring him to a
much wider audience. A collaborator then, he works with the finest artists
in the comic industry to bring his visions to life. These visions can be
dark but always compelling and none more so than in “From Hell”, his interpretation
of Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel murders of 1888. The story is unflinchingly
stark, especially in the portrayal of conditions for the working classes
in London at that time and for the extreme brutality of the murders themselves.
However, Moore offsets the Dickensian harshness with a genuine warmth and
respect for the all of the characters involved. His respect for the reader
too, in brilliantly illuminating notes on every chapter in the book, is something
to be cherished. Put simply then, it is a masterpiece that can be understood
and enjoyed by C1 level students, thanks to the beautiful illustrations of
artist Eddie Campbell.


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