Only Sometimes Looking Sideways-cover

Published by O'Brien Press 1998 and 2000. A Book of Essays.

"Nobody sees things quite like Polly Devlin. Her writing is witty, entertaining, spontaneous and idiosyncratic, with the ability to nudge your vision of the world into a slightly different skew. In this collection she writes about lost dogs, Venetian palaces, married life, her Irish background, police brutality, rooks nesting, a museum in Paris, shopping with daughters - things from a small world that somehow involve the world at large. The writing is fresh and lively and full of an endearing capacity to be surprised by life and its chance happenings."

"An impressive talent for acute insight, le mot juste and an infectious enthusiasm for the infuriating but irresistible." Time Out


Reviews



Polly Devlin casts spells
Irish Times

When good editors die they go to a magazine in the sky staffed by winged Polly Devlins. There they'' be guaranteed gemlike copy that marries sense and sensibility, (dogs and magic, husbands and hammocks), that plays with daring associations, that offers Babette's feastlets of poetry and art, that converses.

O'Brien Press have done a smart service for the earthbound reader by gathering a collection of London-based Devlin's journalism from Image and The World of Hibernia. They're all crackers, but perhaps 'Bower Bird' is most vintage Devlin; an essay that links Ireland, Paris, an 18th-century English genius, set design, the Holocaust and the essence of collecting - in man and bird a similar obsession. Start here.

Helen Byrne - RTE Guide, 12 June 1998

For decades Polly Devlin has been a familiar name to readers of the British "quality" newspapers. She has been Features Editor of Vogue magazine, and she has published several books, the most recent of which is a collection of writings "Only Sometimes Looking Sideways" (O'Brien Press).

Polly has a fine sense of humour and a very perceptive mind, constantly observing and questioning, "Why were there no great women artists?" It was in fact her daughter who asked that question, but the thoughts and discussions which it generated are splendid.

She deplores the disappearance of the Irish bogs, asking "Do you use peat in yhour garden?", and she comments on the plight of the corncrake.

In Paris on the Metro she notices a man and woman having an intense conversation: "I knew they were Irish or possibly Russion. Certainly not French, Italian or German. How did I know? Any Irish person knows. The tribal signals are all there, the stance, the hands in the pocket, the tilt of the head, the mobilityh of the face, light in the eyes and of course, it must be said, the total disregard for appearance. Only the russions talk and stand the same way as the Irish and address each other with the same passionate one to one involvement." She was right, they were from Clogerhead.

But travelling through the village of Moy near Armagh she heard a band: "Here they are again. My heart sank. Twenty-five years on and I am listening to the same harsh beat I used to hear every July and August throughout my childhood. The members of these bands practise an aggressive drumming, technique and as they march their faces are rigid, their territory is spoored. It would truly be hard to feel any warmth or pleasure watching the members of an Orange band, their faces hard as the hobs of hell, strutting their stuff as though they owned the place. Which they think they do."

Leinster Leader - 11 June 1998

Only Sometimes Looking Sideways by Polly Devlin. (O'Brien Press)

A collection of pieces written for Image magazine and its sister publication The World of Hibernia, which cover lost dogs, married life, police brutality, shoping with daughters and ordinary, everyday events which take on a different hue when described by this talented writer. The book is just the thing for the holiday. Even better, get hold of All of Us There and put that in too. It is an account of the author's childhood growing up on the shores of Lough Neagh and is a wonderful insight into that complex land across the border.

Maeve Browne - Irish Independent