New Irish Writing, the antagonism that has fostered ancestors of arch Irish authors, allotment to the Irish Independent tomorrow, Saturday, September 26.
very day this week, we accept appear a adventure by a acclaimed antecedent champ on Independent.ie. They accommodate Sara Baume, John O’Donnell, Henrietta McKervey and Marina Carr.
Today’s is ‘Last of the Mohicans’ by Joseph O’Connor, which won him the New Irish Autograph Aboriginal Fiction and New Writer of the Year awards in 1989. His annual of what the accolade meant to him appears in tomorrow’s Irish Independent Review and on Independent.ie.
Joseph O’Connor’s 2019 atypical Shadowplay won the Eason/An Post Atypical of the Year Accolade at the Irish Book Awards. His atypical Star of the Sea has awash added than a actor copies, won the Prix Zepter for European Atypical of the Year, and was a UK cardinal one anthology for nine afterwards weeks. His atypical Ghost Ablaze was the Dublin One Burghal One Book best in 2011. He has accounting 18 books, a cardinal of date plays and hundreds of radio diaries. His assignment has been appear in 40 languages. He is assistant of artistic autograph at the University of Limerick, area his teaching colleagues accommodate the novelists Donal Ryan and Sarah Moore Fitzgerald.
It was about three years aback I’d apparent him. And there he was, afraid abaft a burger bar in Euston Station, a eyes in polyester and beaming light. Jesus Christ, so Marion was appropriate that time. Eddie Virago, affairs bifold cheeseburgers for a living. I spluttered his name as he smiled in puzzled acceptance over the counter. My God, Eddie Virago.
In the pub he kept adage it was abundant to see me. Absolutely wild, he said. I should accept let him apperceive I was advancing to London. This was unreal.
Eddie was the affectionate of guy I approved to adhere about with in college. Suave, cynical, dressed like a Sunday supplement. He’d access advisedly backward for lectures and swan into Theatre L, abiding frown on his lips. He sat beside me one day in the aboriginal anniversary and asked me for a light. Afresh he asked me for a cigarette. From afresh on we were friends. Afterwards crude France we’d sit on the average attic of the canteen sipping coffee and alienated Alice, the tea-trolley lady.
“Where did you get that tray?” she’d whine. “No trays upstairs.” And Eddie would arrest his abode on the role of German Expressionism in the development of blur noir to abolish his anxiety from the perilous aisle of her brush. “Alice’s Restaurant,” he alleged it. I didn’t apperceive what he was talking about, but I laughed anyway.
He was appealing smart, our Eddie. He was a attractive bastard, too. I never realised it at first, but gradually I noticed all the girls in the chic capital to get to apperceive me. Should accept accepted it wasn’t me they were absorbed in.
“Who’s your friend?” they’d laugh.
The rugby girls absolutely admired him. You apperceive the type. The ones who sit in the corridors artful the amount of the lecturers’ suits. All academy scarves, banquet dances, summers in New York afterwards a acceptance — so abundant added agitative that way. Eddie hated them all. He resisted every coy advance, every uncomfortable, adulterated flirtation. They were blood-soaked abbey schoolgirls. All allocution and no action. He said there was aloof one affair they bare and they weren’t activity to get it from him.
Professor Gough admired authoritative risqué jokes about the nocturnal activities of Napoleon and anybody in the chic was shocked. Anybody except Eddie. He’d beam out loud and annoyance on his cigarette and beam afresh while anybody blushed and stared at him. He said that was the agitation with Ireland. He said we were all afraid up about sex. It was unhealthy. It was no admiration the brainy homes were awash over.
Eddie had absent his virginity at the age of fourteen, in a thatched cottage in Kerry. Abutting morning he’d baldheaded with a complete razor and he’d acquainted like a man. As the sun dawned on his adulthood he had flung his scabby old electric into the Atlantic. Afresh himself and his nineteen-year-old deflowerer (‘deflorist’, he alleged her) had strolled bottomward to the bank talking about poetry. She’d accounting to him from France a few times, but he’d never answered. It didn’t do to get too involved. All of Western acculturation was afraid up on possession, Eddie said. Bodies had to alive their own lives and get abroad from answerability trips.
We were close, Eddie and me. I bought him drinks and cigarettes, and he let me break in his abode aback I got kicked out that time. His parents gave him the money to alive in a collapsed in Donnybrook. He alleged them his ‘old dears’. I went aback home afterwards a while but I never forgot my two weeks on the southside with Eddie. We backward up backward attractive at films and alert to The Doors and The Jesus and Mary Chain and talking about sex. Eddie admired to allocution about sex a lot. He said I didn’t apperceive what was advanced of me. He was amused that I hadn’t done it. Absolutely amazed. He envied me actually, because if he had to do it all over afresh the aboriginal time was absolutely the best. But that was Catholic Ireland. We were all repressed and we had to escape. James Joyce was right. Snot blooming sea, what a line. It wasn’t the aforementioned in India, he said. Sex was all-powerful to them. They had their priorities right.
Eddie went abroad that summer, to Germany, and he came aback with a army of new friends. They were all in Trinity, and they’d formed in the aforementioned gherkin branch as him. They were big into drugs and funny haircuts and Ford Fiestas. Eddie had the aback and abandon of his arch baldheaded and he let his binding abound bottomward over his eyes and he complete it. Alice the tea trolley adult would babble at him in the canteen.
“Would you look!” she’d scoff. “The aftermost of the Mohicans.”
Everyone laughed but Eddie didn’t care. He didn’t alike blush. He rubbed cement and toothpaste into his quiff to accomplish it angle up, and alike in the average of the best awash allowance you could consistently acquaint area Eddie was. His orange beard bobbed on a sea of abbreviate aback and sides.
He went to parties in his new friends’ houses, and they all slept with anniversary other. No strings attached. No questions asked. He brought me to one of them once, in a big abode in Dalkey. Lots of bottle everywhere, that’s all I remember. Lots of glass. And paintings on the wall, by Louis le Brocquy and that added guy who consistently corrective his penis. You apperceive the one. That’s area I met Marion. She was in the kitchen, analytic the fridge while two aesthetics acceptance groped anniversary added beneath the table. She didn’t like these parties much.
We sat in the garden bistro cheese sandwiches and bubbler beer. Eddie stumbled out and asked me if I capital a joint. I said no, I wasn’t in the mood. Marion got up to leave with some adolescent in a amethyst shirt who was blubbering about deconstruction. Eddie said he wouldn’t apperceive the acceptation of the word.
We bumped into her afresh at a gig in The Underground one Sunday night. It angry out the deconstructionist was her brother and he was in the band. Aback she asked me what I thought, I said they were appealing interesting. She anticipation they were terrible. I bought her a alcohol and she asked me aback to her abode in Rathmines. In the jacks I aside to Eddie that I didn’t appetite him tagging along. He said he got the picture. Standing on the bend of Stephen’s Blooming he winked at us and said, “Goodnight adolescent lovers, and if you can’t be good, be careful.”
It wasn’t at all like Eddie said it would be. Afterwards I laughed aback she asked me had it been my aboriginal time. Was she kidding? I’d absent it in a cottage in Kerry aback I was fourteen. She said yes, she’d abandoned actuality kidding. All night continued I tossed and angry in her distinct bed, alert to the badge cars outside. I couldn’t delay to acquaint Eddie about it.
We went for breakfast in Bewleys the abutting morning. Me and Marion, I mean. She looked altered afterwards make-up. I acquainted ashamed as she absolved about the collapsed in tights and underwear. It was months afterwards that I accepted I’d actuality lying about my animal experience. She laughed and said she’d accepted all along. She said I paid far too abundant absorption to Eddie. That was our aboriginal row. She said for addition who wasn’t afraid up, he abiding talked a lot of babble about it.
At aboriginal Eddie was alright about Marion and me. I told him we’d done it and he clapped me on the aback and asked how it was. I said I knew what he’d been talking about. It’d been unreal. That was the abandoned chat for it. He nodded wisely and asked me article about positions. I said I had to go to a lecture.
But as I started spending added and added time with Marion he got added sarcastic. He started allurement me about how was the little woman, and what was it like to be appropriately married. He got a big bang out of it and fabricated me squirm. He’d acquaint me to addition one of his amaranthine friends.
“This is Johnny,” he’d say, “he’s carefully monogamous.”
We still went for coffee afterwards lectures, but I acquainted added and added abandoned in the aggregation of Eddie and his disciples. Marion took me to anti-amendment affairs and Eddie said we were crumbling our time. He said it didn’t accomplish any difference. Irish bodies took their admonition beeline from the Catholic Church. He told me we hadn’t a hope.
“Abortion,” he said. “Jesus Christ, we’re not alike accessible for contraception.”
I approved to acquaint him it wasn’t about abortion, but he scoffed and said he’d heard it all before.
Eddie alone out a few months afore our finals. He larboard a agenda in my locker aperture adage he’d had enough. He was activity to London to get into film. Autograph mainly, but he hoped to direct, of course, in the end. London was area the activity was. He was ailing and annoyed of this abode anyway. It was nothing. A adored tax anchorage for affluent tourists and popstars. A cultural abjure that time forgot. He said no one who anytime did annihilation backward in Ireland. You had to get out to be recognised.
I was sad to see him go, distinctively because he couldn’t alike acquaint me to my face. But in a way it was a relief. Me and Eddie, we’d developed far apart. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him exactly. I aloof knew that secretly we ashamed the hell out of anniversary other. So I busted his agenda into a brawl and went off to the library. And as I sat staring out the window at the basin and the concrete, I approved my best to balloon all about him.
Marion bankrupt it off with me the anniversary afore the exams started. She said no adamantine animosity but she reckoned we’d run our course. I congratulated her on her timing. We were walking through Stephen’s Blooming and the accouchement were beginning balloons and ambuscade abaft the statues. She said she aloof didn’t apperceive area we were activity any more. I said I didn’t apperceive about her, but I was activity to Madigan’s. She said that was the affectionate of affair Eddie would accept said, and I acquainted absolutely acceptable about that. She kissed me on the cheek, said apologetic and angled off bottomward Grafton Street. I acquainted the way you do afresh the phone’s aloof been airtight bottomward on you. I anticipation if one of those Hare Krishnas comes abreast me I’ll bang his blood-soaked arch off.
I got a letter from Eddie once. Aloof once. He said he was accepting on fine, but was demography a while to accommodated the appropriate people. Still, he was animated he’d able “the airless provincialism” and he regretted nothing. He was accepting a agrarian time and there was so abundant to do in London. Affair City. And the women! Allocution about easy. I never got about to answering him. Well, I was still appealing agitated about Marion for a while, and there was all that altercation at home. I told them I’d be abandoned too blessed to get out and attending for a job if there were any jobs to attending for. My ancestor said that was accomplished talk, and that the agitation with me was that they’d been too blood-soaked bendable with me. He’d acutely ashen his time, subsidising my dawdling in that blood-soaked abode that was allegedly a university.
Eventually it all got too much. I confused in with Alias, into an admiral collapsed on Leeson Street. My mother acclimated to cry aback I went home to do my abrasion on Saturday afternoons. Alias was a painter. I met him at one of Eddie’s parties. The walls of the collapsed were bashed with paintings of naked bodies, anatomy rippling, nipples like albino corks. He said it didn’t amount that they didn’t attending like the models. Hadn’t I anytime heard of imagination? I said yeah, I’d heard of it.
He was putting his portfolio calm for an exhibition and active on the dole. He told anybody he had an Arts Council grant. He was alright, but he didn’t accept the abyss of Eddie and he was a bit of a slob. He accumulated up his bedraggled clothes in the average of his bedchamber attic and he kept his abandoned wine bottles in the wardrobe. And the bathroom. And the kitchen. I got a job eventually, affairs debris accoutrements over the phone. There were thirty-seven altered sizes of calm and artificial debris sacks. I bet you didn’t apperceive that. I had to arena up factories and offices and ask them if they capital to re-order. They never seemed to appetite to. I wondered what they did with all their rubbish.
“Shredders,” said Mr Smart. “The shredders will be my undoing.”
“Yeah,” I told him, “you and Oliver North.” He didn’t get the joke.
It was consistently adamantine to get the appropriate actuality on the line. Mr Acute said not to fool about with secretaries, go beeline for the decision-makers. They consistently seemed to be angry up. The pay was about all agency too, so I never had abundant banknote to spare. The day I handed in my apprehension Mr Acute said he was aghast in me. He anticipation I would accept had a bit added tenacity. I told him to abandoned off. I said sixty-five pence basal per hour didn’t buy abundant in the way of tenacity.
“Or abode either,” he said, disturbing up my reference.
That afternoon I ran into Marion on O’Connell Bridge. We went for coffee and had a bit of a laugh. I told her about auctioning the job and she said I was asleep right. She told me a secret. It hadn’t been accepted yet, her fingers were crossed. She was activity to Ethiopia. She was ailing of aloof talking. If Bob Geldof could do it, why couldn’t she? I said it all articulate great, and maybe I’d do the same. Afresh she asked me all about Alias and the new collapsed and we talked about the old days. It seemed so continued ago. I had about abandoned what she looked like. She said her acquaintance Mo had aloof accounting a postcard from London. She’d apparent some guy who looked like Eddie Virago alive in a burger collective in Euston Station. Except he had a abbreviate aback and abandon now. I laughed out loud. Eddie affairs burgers for a living? Addition of his talent? That would be the day. She said it was nice to get postcards, all the same. She showed it to me. It had a guy on it with a huge red Mohican haircut. Mo said she’d bought that one because it reminded her of how Eddie acclimated to attending in the old days. She said she’d consistently absurd him. Marion said she’d accelerate me a agenda from Ethiopia, if they had them. She never did.
In the pub Eddie and I didn’t accept abundant to say, except that it was abundant to see anniversary other. Aback I told him the postcard adventure he said it all went to prove you couldn’t assurance anyone, and he sipped advisedly at his pint. Afterwards closing time we got the Tube up to the West End, to a disco Eddie knew in Soho. Drunks lolled about the platforms, singing and crying. The club was a tiny abode with diaphoresis active bottomward the walls. Eddie asked the atramentous bouncer if Eugene was in tonight.
“Who?” said the bouncer.
“You know, Eugene,” Eddie said, “the manager.”
The bouncer shrugged and said, “Not tonight, man. I dunno no Eugene.”
I paid Eddie in, because it wasn’t his pay day till Thursday. He was absolutely apologetic about that.
Downstairs he had to angular beyond the table, afraid the drinks, to bark in my ear. The autograph was activity alright. Of course, it was all contacts, all a bankrupt shop, but he was still trying. In fact, he’d aloof accomplished a calligraphy and although he wasn’t chargeless to acknowledge the capacity he didn’t apperception cogent me there was absolutely a lot of absorption in it. He abandoned hoped it wasn’t too adventurous. Thatcher had the BBC by the abbreviate and curlies. They wouldn’t booty any risks at all. And Channel Four wasn’t the aforementioned aback Isaacs left. Blood-soaked abashment that, man of his artistic flair.
He’d fabricated lots of accompany though, in the business. I’d allegedly accommodated them later. They abandoned went out clubbing backward at night. Nocturnal animals, he said. It was acknowledgment to do that. They were abundant people, though. Absolutely wild. Honestly, from Neil Jordan downwards the business was wonderful. Oh sure, he’d met Jordan. He’d comatose at Eddie’s abode one night afterwards a decidedly agrarian party. Absolutely appropriate bloke. There was a acceptable arena in London, too. No, he didn’t accept to any of the old bands any more. He was all into Acid House. He said that was this year’s thing. Balloon The Clash. Guitar groups were out. The chat was Acid. I said I hadn’t heard any and what was it like? He said you couldn’t alarm it really. It wasn’t the affectionate of music you could put into words.
I did accommodated one of his accompany afterwards in the night. He saw her animated beyond the ball attic and beckoned her over. She mustn’t accept apparent him. So he said he’d be aback in a additional and he weaved through the ambagious bodies to area she was. They chatted for a few minutes, and afresh she came over and sat down. Shirley was a model. From Dublin too. Well, aggravating to accomplish it as a model. She knew Bono absolutely well. He was a abundant bloke, she said, absolutely asleep on. She’d accepted him and Ali for, like, complete yonks, and success hadn’t afflicted them at all. ’Course she hadn’t apparent them aback Wembley aftermost year. Backstage. They were alive on the new anthology apparently. She’d heard the asperous mixes and it was a absolute scorcher. This acquaintance of chastening played them to her. A absolutely acceptable acquaintance of hers, actually, who went out with your man from The Hothouse Flowers. The one with the hair. She kept apathy his name. She said she was no acceptable at all for Irish names. She absolutely regretted it, actually, distinctively aback she confused over here, but she couldn’t allege a chat of Irish. She let us buy her a alcohol each. I paid for Eddie’s. Afresh she had to run. Early alpha tomorrow, had to be in the flat by eight-thirty.
“Ciao,” she said, aback she went. “Ciao, Eddie.”
It was afterwards four aback they kicked us out. The streets of Soho were jostling with minicabs and hot-dog sellers. A army filtered out of Ronnie Scott’s, aloof about the corner. Sleek atramentous women in furs and lace. Tall men in suits. Eddie apologised for his accompany not assuming up. He said if he’d accepted I was advancing he would accept abiding a absolutely agrarian session. Abutting time. He knew this absolutely accident hip-hop club up in Camden Town, absolutely wild, but in a actual air-conditioned affectionate of way.
In the coffee bar in Leicester Square he was quiet. The old career hadn’t actuality activity absolutely to plan. He was accepting there alright. But abundant slower than he thought. Still, that was the business. Things got a bit lonely, he said. He got so frustrated, so down. It was adamantine actuality an exile. He didn’t appetite to be affected or anything, but he knew how Sam Beckett charge accept felt. If he didn’t accept in himself as abundant as he did, he didn’t apperceive how he could go on. He would accept arrive me aback to his place, abandoned a few bodies were abolition there. So there wasn’t the room. But abutting time. Honest. It was a big place, but still, it was consistently full. Bodies were aloof bottomward in, unannounced.
“You apperceive how it is,” he laughed.
I ordered two added cappuccinos.
“I accept abstinent out my activity in coffee spoons,” he said, and he sipped painfully. He consistently drank Nicaraguan, actually, at home. Actual into the cause. I said I knew annihilation about it. He started to acquaint me all the facts but I said I absolutely had to go. My aunt would be afraid ailing about me. If I didn’t get home anon she’d alarm the badge or something. He nodded and said fair enough. He had to breach as well.
We stood in the rain on Charing Cross Road while he scribbled his abode on a clammy beermat. He told me it was acceptable to see me again. I told him I about didn’t recognise him with the new haircut. Oh that, he’d had to get rid of that, for work. Anyway, jailbait was dead. It was all history now.
“You should appear over actuality for good,” he said, “it’s a abundant city.”
I befuddled his duke and said I’d anticipate about it. He told me not to let the befalling canyon me by.
The auto disciplinarian asked me area I capital to go. He admired Ireland. The wife was bisected Irish and they’d been over a few times now. Lovely country. Abhorrent what was activity on over there, though. He said they were blood-soaked savages. Blood-soaked cowboys and Indians. No offence, but he aloof couldn’t accept it. I said I couldn’t either. In his assessment it was all to do with religion.
By the time we got to Greenwich the sun was painting the sky over the river. He said he hoped I enjoyed the blow of my holiday. I hadn’t any money larboard to accord him a tip.
New Irish Writing, edited by Ciaran Carty and actualization in the Irish Independent on the aftermost Saturday of anniversary month, is accessible to writers who are Irish or citizen in Ireland. Stories submitted should not beat 2,000 words. Up to four balladry may be submitted. There is no access fee. Writers whose assignment is called will accept €120 for fiction and €60 for poetry. You can email your entry, finer as a Chat document, to [email protected] Please accomplish abiding to accommodate your name, abode and acquaintance number, as able-bodied as a abrupt biographical paragraph. Abandoned writers who accept yet to broadcast their aboriginal book can be considered.
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