Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Crest of a Wave

Far be from me to revel in the discomfiture of the sisterfucking speculators who not only destroyed the Donegal landscape these last ten years, but also imprisoned a generation in a death by mortgage prison of gerrybuilt plaster and spit constructions at 300k a pop, but I sincerely hope that in hell they will have their place alongside those who killed off the coast of Spain, their heads encased in buckets of cement for all eternity, battered around circles of sterile, badly drained land with lengths of cheap timber.

AMEN

They were here first

This is one of my favorite collection of stones in Ireland, between the towns of Tullaghan and Mullaghmore - it's called Saint Patrick's Well.

The little shrine on top of it contains a plaster sculpture of Saint Patrick in green robes.

Saint Patrick's Well has a splendid view of the Atlantic, a series of cliffs and inlets leading to Bundoran. It looks out on Donegal Bay and Slieve League. If it could see far enough, it would notice Quebec.


However, Saint Patrick's Well is not really Saint Patrick's at all.

In fact, it is a neolithic tomb of some five thousand years provenance.

Water runs under it.

Just so you know.
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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Debate in Brussels


I'm having my shpake in Brussels tomorrow about the EU and the Irish no.

Details below

On 11 December, EU leaders will meet to find what they call a ‘solution’ to the ‘Irish problem’ – Irish voters’ rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in their June referendum. The Manifesto Club will be taking our campaign for popular democracy to the heart of Brussels – to expose the contemptuous attitude of European elites towards their publics, and to start to build a cross-European alliance for freedom and against bureaucracy.

8 DECEMBER, NO MEANS NO! - MEETING IN BRUSSELS

We are delighted to be co-organising a discussion - with the think-tank, Open Europe - in the centre of Brussels, three days before EU leaders meet. We will host a debate between European democrats of all political persuasions - to analyse the growth of EU technocracy, and the growing no-votes against it. At this meeting, we will also be launching two new Manifesto Club publications: EU Phrasebook: 27 Ways to say, No Doesn't Really Mean No, by Josie Appleton; and No Means No, an analysis of the growth of EU technocracy, by Bruno Waterfield and Christopher Bickerton.

Speakers include: Declan Ganley (chairman, Libertas, Irish no-campaign); Bruno Waterfield, (Brussels correspondent, Daily Telegraph); Christopher Bickerton (department of politics and international relations, Oxford); Josie Appleton (convenor, Manifesto Club, and author of the club’s forthcoming EU Phrasebook); Gerry Feehily (writer and literary journalist, based in Paris).

Date: 8 December 2008
Place: Atelier Marcel Hastir, Rue du Commerce 51, 1000 Brussels
Time: 7pm


For more, press 1

Monday, November 24, 2008

A bailout plan for writers


The CEOs of the automobile industry are a great inspiration to me.

As is Tao Lin.

Shares in an individual writer's forthcoming novel are one thing however.

I feel writers, all writers, needs a bailout plan too.

Take GUNK, my second novel, for instance.

An extract from my second novel GUNK is due to appear in the next 3am / Offbeat anthology.

But GUNK is in danger.

GUNK runs on alternative fuel sources but might never happen because GUNK has staggering debts and has made poor investment choices in the last two years.

Bail GUNK out with a massive cash injection, and you save one novel.

Bail out writers with a $700 billion dollar plan, and you are saving a system.

NOW

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Offbeat with Andrew Gallix








Last night I was on French radio with Andrew Gallix of the great 3am magazine.

We talked about the Offbeat Generation.

Then I read an extract from Fever in French, that I'd translated.

Then Andrew read an extract from Tony O'Neill.

It was an excellent night.

To listen, press 1

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Offbeat Generation on France Culture


Tonight, I'm on France Culture with Andrew Gallix from 3am Magazine. We'll be talking about the Offbeat Generation. And I'll be reading an extract from Fever in French.

émission du mercredi 5 novembre 2008
THE OFFBEATS avec Andrew Gallix et Gerry Feehily + Christophe Conte pour sa bio Une Histoire d’Etienne Daho (Flammarion) + un Live d'Arnold Turboust


"Animé par un esprit punk, la génération Offbeat est un mouvement littéraire né en réaction à la commercialisation du monde de l'édition aux Etats Unis et, surtout, en Grande-Bretagne. Gerry Feehily, romancier Offbeat vivant à Paris, et Andrew Gallix, auteur d'une anthologie d'écrivains Offbeat, évoqueront les enjeux de ce nouveau courant. De son côté, Christophe a longtemps écouté Etienne Daho pour nous parler aujourd'hui de sa biographie Une Histoire d'Etienne Daho (Flammarion). Un liove, enfin, avec le retour d'Arnold Turboust." Click ici

Sunday, November 2, 2008

London

I was in London this weekend.

London is an amazing city with a population of 500 million people who stay indoors all the time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Text and the City


I'll be in London this weekend talking at The Battle of Ideas conference about literature and the city, along with novelist Julian Gough and Professor Swapan Chakravorty.

"When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; and when a man is tired of life he moves to Paris to write a book about it. But other cities are keen to emphasise their literary heritage: Edinburgh was delighted to be named the UNESCO City of Literature in 2004, even if Ian Rankin’s Gothic murders and Irvine Welsh’s tales of squalor are not great tourist adverts. In 2008 Melbourne became the second CoL – to the great disappointment of the other contenders, including several newcomers in emerging economies, keen to stake their particular claims on the literary map. Should we celebrate the richness and variety of different cities, or does ‘the city’ remain a blank space in which to explore universal concerns?"

For more details, press here

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

3am - Bothering the Geese


My recital of page one of Fever found its way onto the Buzzwords blog of the excellent 3am magazine, complete with the following kudos -
"World, let me introduce you to the best author you’ve never read: Gerry Feehily. His stunning debut novel Fever was published last year and an extract from his work-in-progress appears in the forthcoming Offbeat anthology. Gerry is also a talented literary translator and a freelance journalist. Born in London, raised in Ireland, he now resides in France where he bothers geese given half the chance. Be warned: this man is seriously talented. You read it here first."

I could not ask for more.

To see the original post, click here

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fever Recital 2

This recital happened in a field, where animals were present.

Reciting page 1 of my novel, Fever

This Sunday afternoon I recited the first page of my novel, Fever, while rowing a boat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Content-driven kitsch happens in Paris possibly

The French invented many things - cakes, roads, vegetables, the English language. B-b-b-but (sorry, I start to stutter when I feel I'm losing my audience) who could have imagined they invented Goth as well? Siouxie Sioux, off with you now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Alcibiades - California 1969

I was thinking of Alcibiades, the Greek traitor, again. Here, I feel, is his sixty-ninth reincarnation making a right dog's dinner of that delightful song by The Doors. Though it must be said - he is lionlike. Lionlike.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Madame Bovary, c'est moi - an interview with Andreï Makine



My interview with Russian author Andreï Makine has been published in 3am Magazine.

It’s said that on his death in 1982, Leonid Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union, was so obese that his body fell through the bottom of the wooden coffin meant to contain him. Reassigned to a metal casket, a final indignity still awaited at his graveside by the Kremlin walls. The pallbearers lowering him down on ropes proved unable to cope with the weight. The coffin slipped, clunked off the grave’s edge, then disappeared into the hole with a loud crash. More here...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Seeing between the lines



My blog on how we "see" fictional characters is up on Guardian Unlimited today. And above is a picture of Marlon Brando.

Click here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Did Sarkozy convince the Irish?


Not really sure he was bothered to convince them. But to hold Brian Cowen's head down the toilet in a bid to persuade him to hold a second referendum some time next year, I am quite sure. It's in English, and you can watch it here

Thursday, July 17, 2008

When characters die, can we really feel grief?

A question which I've had an extensive muse over. On Guardian Unlimited. Ici

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Guillotine Love Poem

Last night I helped Laurent climb the traffic sign on Boulevard St Martin, a bit like celui -la
that sends the eternal flow of Paris cars south towards St. Germain, westwards to Opéra and Etoile.

It's about twenty feet up under the linden trees. Linden leaves are shaped like hearts, if you must know.

Then I grabbed a barstool, placed it underneath the traffic sign, clambered up on top, as it trembled beneath me, and handed Laurent a glass of vodka mixed with champagne. Perched on the last of the signs that direct you towards the city limits, he drank the vodka in one, leaning further and further back as the glass got emptier and emptier. Then he dropped the glass which, with outstretched hands, I failed to catch, and finally he recited this poem, the cause of this adventure.

"Lola, with your white dress
And dirty teeth
Your neck is so lovely
I'd like to chop it off"

That was Tuesday night. Laurent really comes out of himself at the weekend.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

St Martin of the Canal

Saint Martin's wide patronship - he supposedly looks over tailors, beggars, innkeepers, the city of Mainz (not recommended), purveyors of wine, sausage manufacturers, also geese, and horses - cannot prevent one from suspecting that his non-martyrdom - he wasn't stoned, boiled, eaten, or nailed to a cross - makes his miracles suspicious, and even obscure. On the canal in the Xéme arrondissement in Paris which is named after him, I saw a black man in rags admire a brown-eyed woman in a red bondage dress as she crossed the footbridge which rises above the water and lands perfectly on the opposite bank. "Elle est belle," he said, the black man in rags, his bare feet grey with dust, while the girl whose lively step was as much a delight as the vivid scrape scrape of her heel along the bridge's wooden planks went brown-eyed and busily along, humming, I'm sure, a Jacques Dutronc song. The lime trees columned along the canal bank were approximately sixty feet high that morning as the black man sang "elle est belle elle est belle" to the scrapes of the woman's shoes. Beneath massed green branches the tramp sang out, then scratched his head with the neck of his plastic wine bottle, grimacing and sighing as the scrape scrape of the neck soothed the itch, an inch of red sloshing about at the bottom. "Elle est belle, comme une poubelle," he sang. Then, gaining confidence, he sang it again, "Elle est belle, belle, comme une poubelle," scraping all the itch away. She is beautiful, like a dustbin. Meanwhile, the woman went into a distance packed with French poubelles, fat and green with hungry yellow mouths ajar, out of which the sure slow sound of fermenting rubbish climbed. I saw other sights too - A red man galloping beneath a plastic tree. Canals slowly filling with tap water and red wine. A crow standing at traffic lights, saying despicable, outrageous things. The black man in a tattered suit slowly turning grey as a plastic bag in lime-tree dust.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Greek Theatre at Taormina


I hate tourism. I hate tourists. They really make me crackers, especially at ancient monuments. So as I step down the stone steps of the Greek (and later Roman) theatre of Taormina, unable to think of antiquity and antique things - Sophocles, gladiators, wild animals - surrounded as I am by tourists falling all over themselves to get a photograph of what is unphotographable, seeking like children who have lost their minds the secrets of the Greek Theatre, all of them in fools' shorts, I boil over with wiild improbable rage, trying to take a photo myself, which would capture this. The essence of this place. Shooed away by a Dutch man in shorts (shorts!) who has brown vampire teeth and wants to photograph his fat-legged wife as she wraps herself around a Doric column, giving her vampire husband the thumbs up, I push my way through an English family standing on the stage, clapping their hands to check the acoustics, then sit down, with my back to the bay, and fume at the tourists. I read in my despised Lonely Planet guide that Taormina was a city founded by the Chalcidians of Greece and possesses a bay admired by Goethe and Maupassant. All this may be true, but in 2008 Taormina is full of turkeys from Northern Europe wearing shorts. Innumerable turkeys waddle up and down its streets, cameras swinging around their pale turkey necks, and I walk among them, even as they conspire to ruin my pleasure. Who wouldn't want to pluck them clean of all their money, dressed as they are like children? The enterprising Sicilians would and do, but this doesn't compensate for the fact that my pleasure in antiquity lies in ruins. Ruins like the Greek theatre of Taormina, which looks knackered from the attentions of tourists, who suck like vampires the energy out of the stones with their cameras, despite the fact it looks out over the celebrated bay. Only one question remains as I walk to the restaurant recommended in the Lonely Planet guide where the waiters will make me feel paranoid, and will then pluck me clean of my money.... Would the Sicilians ever wear shorts? I rest my case.

The Celebrated Bay of Taormina


In the Bay of Taormina celebrated by Goethe and Maupassant, a Brazilian man belly flops into the sea, does five feeble strokes, spindly-limbed like a frog, turns back, then with stick arms pulls his plump belly over the jagged pebbles and subsides beside his girlfriend. Why? Because he wants to watch the film she made of him jumping into the sea and swimming. I have a good mind to run up and harangue him on the necessity of experience, and failing this, to give him a kick - in a way similar to Johnson's refutal of Berkeley - in the bollocks. We are the voice clamouring in the desert, I want to say. Somewhat off subject. That was the portrait of John the Baptist I saw in the catacombs of Syracuse, where you didn't get to see any skeletons. Instead of running up to the man, and telling him what's what, however, I elect to start reading Thucydides' account of the events leading up to the disastrous and ill-considered Athenian expedition on Syracuse in 413 BC. But I wouldn't mind an ice-cream first. Before my next fag.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Syracuse


I'm reading Thucydides at a bar where an old man stares at the bay with a far away consternated expression as if he has glimpsed the joke at the origin of time and then dunks a piece of bread into his beer, and I've lost count of the number of cities the Athenian armies pass through and leave as a heap of broken stone out of which a victory marker pokes. All because of Cleon. Thucydides really doesn't go for Cleon, Cleon with his big booming voice what had Pericles done on corruption charges in 430 BC. Cleon who wanted to slaughter all the men of Mytilene for resisting Athenian power. Cleon who said "It is a better for a state to enforce bad laws that are always obeyed than to have good one that go unenforced." Cleon who said "Ignorance combined with prudence has advantages over cleverness combined with intemperance." At the Athenian agora, these days full of tourists picking through ghost stones, Cleon pushed for an attack on the Spartans, an attack the Athenians then invited him to lead. Not expecting to be pulled up on his winged words and his rhetoric that derives its energy from saying what's worst, Cleon nevertheless led a successful expedition to Sphacteria, sold the women and children of Toronaea into slavery, carried out a few massacres, and got hacked to death at Amphipolis. Cleon, exulting in his negatives. But can you imagine Gordon Brown or Nicolas Sarkozy leading an expedition, now, on Iran, for instance? No, but you can imagine them walking around the Greek theatre of Taormina, wearing shorts.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Syracuse - A proposition


I watch Berlusconi on television, with his old man’s face and jet black hair implants as they fluff about beneath the blades of an overhead fan. The room is stifling, people fan themselves with crimped political programmes, but he is exulting about stuff, flanked by two women with implants in their cheeks and chins who are exulting in what he says. Today he's saying "If they're not legal, they go directly to jail," concerning blacks and Arabs, exulting in his words, while the women produce smiles that take over half the size of their faces. Everything about Berlusconi is orgasmic. The women look like they're about to come. Berlusconi looks like he wants to spurt all over their implants. As the clammy handed audience applauds, he pulls out a handkerchief and dabs his come soaked forehead. Tinsel falls from the ceiling, falls on the come flooded floor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Syracuse

Piazza del Duomo in Syracuse, after a rain shower. The piazza is paved with glittering marble. If this were England, there would doubtlessly be signs everywhere warning us the marble was wet - a triangular sign illustrating a man crashing to the wet marble for having been so stupid as to walk upon it. If this were England, I think, as I look at five pairs of ducks in a water source by the port the Athenians failed to seize, despite having built a huge wall around the city, there would signs up warning us to "refrain" from feeding the ducks. If this were England, I think, eating an arancino on a bus, there would be a sign telling me that food smells cause disturbance to fellow customers. Later I go walking in the quarries where the Athenian prisoners laboured before being sold off as slaves, at least those prisoners who survived working in the quarries. Then I buy a Bic lighter in a shop, and it even didn't have an illustration on it, as to how a lighter lights. I am happy with this. I am so happy to have seen the quarries where Athenians died.

Alcibiades


Or maybe I did, in Guatamela, the ragged Indians at the Lake Panajachel, coming out to meet the tourists and squatting on the dock. Why is tourism so grotesque? Then I think about that time in Spain, after the break up with N, on a mountain, listening to goat bells, and thinking I would like to attain to this kind of stillness, to be as absolutely quiet as a stone on the hottest day of the year. Alcibiades, after all, died riddled with arrows, having escaped his burning house. You choose.

Syracuse


An Arab with two bulging plastic bags steps onto the bus for Portopalo. The driver screams at him because he’s holding the wrong ticket. The Arab doesn't say anything. He steps off the bus. The driver, however, is still yelling even as he drives off. People step out the shade to see what’s going on. The Arab starts walking away from the bus shelter, through the gathered crowd, sweating, holding his splitting plastic bags. To have a leader like Berlusconi, it must feel like Christmas. For cunts like the bus driver.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Noto


I’m thinking about Alcibiades, the Athenian, who led one of the disastrous Athenian expeditions to Sicily but was arrested, in Catania, on the grounds of having “profaned” the Eleusinian mysteries. Alcibiades reminds me of those mates we all have, at least one of them, who always has the tickets for the best concerts, who knows, at midnight, that there are at least three parties worth going to. Meanwhile, a tall man is standing in the shade of a lemon tree. I can make out his gaunt face, his very clean white shirt, and I know he’s looking at me. I've missed my bus. I'm standing by the bus shelter, trying to work out how to get to Catania by midday, so I don’t miss my plane. I cannot help thinking that if Alcibiades had been in the same situation, he would already have found a solution, just as, on being led to Athens to face certain death for Eleusinian mystery profanation, he escaped his captors and jumped ship. The man under the tree steps out from under the tree, crosses the piazza. Would you like a taxi? he says. He's a handsome man, and half the teeth in his mouth are gone. "No grazie," I say. The man nods, then withdraws. I say "withdraws" because he takes two steps backwards, like the major domo in the Burt Reynolds scene when he rises naked from his bath. Sicily was built on the bones of the peasantry, I say, to myself, for the fiftieth time. The man turns around, then goes back to the tree, takes his place in the shade. Twenty minutes later a bus arrives, and as I get on the bus he stands watching from his covert under the tree, black hair, brown suit, a Sicilian man, half his teeth gone, a stillness quite like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Noto


"La nobilità," said the elegant landlady, "are still powerful. Troppo.” No doubt Sicily is built on the bones of the peasantry? I muse, addled by the sun during this my Marlboro moment, waiting for the sun to inch behind the lemon tree under which I'm sitting, so I can stop sweating. In her garden. "Da vero," I say, though I don't know what I'm talking about, not knowing anything about Sicily but what I read in my hated Lonely Planet guide, and the film The Leopard. I look at the pallazzo the landlady owns, where the yellow paint is flaking, and then I think back to the scene in The Leopard where Burt Reynolds steps naked out of his porcelain bath and his major domo withdraws from the room, ashamed. Then I think of something Engels said, about thought as the highest expression of matter. Then I drink some spumante. There's a black and white stray cat lying under the table on a teacloth, giving birth to a white kitten, then to a black one, then a black and white one, three variations of itself. I can’t help thinking that cats have it all worked out. You clever cats! I think, drunkenly, trying to make connections, when everything escapes me right now.

Noto


Noto - I'm sitting on the doorstep of my B and B. Across the street, a woman in a white linen suit comes out of her house. "You are waiting for the Signora?" she says, referring to my landlady. "A taxi," I tell her. "Ah!" she says, and rubs her fingers and her thumb together. "They're criminals, you know.” "Aren’t all taxi drivers bastardi ?" I offer as she crosses the road to stand beside me. “I wouldn’t know, I just live here,” she says. “In Parigi they’re bastardi anyway,” I say, determined to pursue my point. "And do you like this town?" she says. "Very much," thinking of the last taxi driver in Paris who ripped me off. "Do you think it’s beautiful?" she goes on. “Very beautiful,” I say. “The cathedral. The pallazzos. Bellissimo” "Bravo,” she says, admiring my taste. But what else could I have said? Your town looks like Clapham in the fucking rain. It wouldn’t even be true. “But nothing happens,” she says. “Nothing?” “Nothing happens every day. All people do is mangiare. Pastries, ice-cream, mangia, mangia." "And what do you do?" I ask her. The woman laughs, and pretends to give me a slap. Her breath smells sweet and high. That’s the choice here. If you don’t eat, you drink. And by that kind of overcooked, confit look of her handsome face, that's what she's been doing for twenty years. It’s an equally valid lifestyle choice in cities where too much happens. Like Paris.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Catania


Yes, you can drink your looks away in cities like Paris. I know of one place - La P------ P------ where it's possible, by midnight, that you've erected some stunning cathedral in your mind. However, by morning, you're faced with something like a Greek resort in winter, a series of half finished holiday homes staring at the wine dark sea, rusting reinforcement rods sticking out of the cement and quivering in the wind. Nearby, there are two taciturn blokes running two drink stalls, selling the same drinks, listening to the same radio station.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Catania Airport



We should put up counter signs everywhere. Here's the first, for public parks. SQUIRRELS WILL BECOME STRONG IF FED STRONG SUBSTANCES. Elsewhere, we could write SILENCE WHILST TRAIN IS IN MOTION or SMOKING FOR CHAMPIONS - GOOD! Alcibiades shagged Socrates after all. Or perhaps the ugliest man in Athens lifted his toga to allow the most beautiful one to blow him off. This is all connected somehow. A STEP TOO FAR.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Whatever it is, we're against it


My article in Spiked in the wake of the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, and moves on the part of Nicolas "Zebedee" Sarkozy to deny it ever happened. With the great Alan Sillitoe as guiding star. Er, not Nicolas Sarkozy's ....mine.

As part of this devastating critique of our soul-less institutions, here's a photo of me drinking beer in Sicily. Cliquez!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Irish say No, and I get to be on telly again. Yay.


The aftermath of the Irish Pah! Poo! Poo! to the Lisbon Treaty. I get trapped and have to explain my vision of the future Europe. This includes an historical figure such as Garibaldi. Imagine, we'll get to wear red shirts. And that would be good. Cliquez, camarade.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Your Favourite Author muses on the Irish Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty


My first time on French Televsion, leg jigging wildly under the table, talking in French about them ungrateful Micks who might even dare to say Pah! Zut! to the Lisbon Treaty.

Here's a photo of my fellow debaters, members of Leitrim County Council.

It's in French, cliquez ici

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Style

I've been thinking on the question of style, or at least the style in the kind of writing I like. The word that springs to mind is "resistance" and by that I mean that the words chosen, the sentence structure, those visual signs and mechanisms that reveal the very whirly bits and lumps of the author's mind, exert some sort of contrary pull on the reader, on his eye, on the brain. The eye reads from left to right, but the words pull in the other direction. I'm thinking of Issac Babel here, Céline, Hubert Selby Junior, Faulkner, Alan Warner, authors that pluck at the strings and elastic bands and wiring of the mind, rework them until a new sound emerges, the voice of someone you see in a dream but who you've never met. The authentic voice exerts a pressure on the mind, is perhaps a tad monomaniacal in insisting that the reader is faithful to the line, that the reader cleaves to it. And the more you cleave to the line, the more it repels you.

So reading is a form of struggle, a combat sport, a kung fu where reader grapples with the author who grapples with words, and with your head. Or is kung fu where everyone just kicks the shite out each other? Maybe I mean judo. Or perhaps vigorous lovemaking. Ah well.

This is at least true of those books I could be bothered to read.

Tonight I'm going to bed to grapple with Roberto Bolano, as he explains The Savage Detectives to me.

It's raining in Paris, by the way. Like cow who piss.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gunk

The month of March - a burst of activity unseen since I was in second year at the De La Salle, Ballyshannon, around about the time of the fourth Bunnymen album. I was busy in March, I'm saying. After eight articles in less than three weeks (a record) I took to bed for much of the month of April, missed some deadlines, reduced my cigarette consumption to a mere twenty a day and stayed away from my local - La Petite Porte - where I’d spent much of the last three years.

As I lay in bed I became intrigued by the notion of “taking to bed”. I wonder if it’s only in Ireland that people do this, as in “P.J. took to bed”. This was a remark often to be heard as you stood over a hole where P.J. was in the process of being buried. Taking to bed was perhaps a way of saying P.J. was depressed and needed to get away from it all but it inevitably also served as a excuse by which P.J. i.e. you or one, died, in a fashion the timing of which Irish people of a certain generation seemed to feel instinctively. A month or a year in a supine position, combined probably with the effects of the food and bad central heating, and you were starting to smell.

Anyway, glad tidings, I woke up in May, leaped out of bed, threw on my clothes, singing a song, feeling shite, as always. Throwing myself down the stairs to the bar/tabac, I thought about Ireland, and realized that I’d spent a much longer time here in France, than back there, in Ireland, and that the book I’d published, Fever, was one stab I made at that experience, of growing up in Ireland, and that, despite having cherished it in my head for years, having carried around in France and elsewhere a particular atmosphere, a manner in the body, in the eye, in the way of saying things, that was so obviously of the place where I grew up, that what came out of it, Fever, which seemed so important then, didn’t amount to much.

Which is not such a bad thing. All the more reason then to begin on a new book. So I’ve started on a new book. It’s provisionally entitled Gunk. It’ll take in France and London and Italy and a dozen other places, some glittery islands in the Meditaranean even. It’ll be shite, I promise, the second book, but it’ll at least mean that something happened after staying bed a month, to compensate for the fact that I didn't expire with that particular effort.

Gunk will take ages to write, like Fever, and no doubt I'll be broke for much of the time of its composition, and will probably abandon it several times, but I'm heartened by an article by the excellent Andrew Gallix on the virtues of slow writing, in which respect I am definitely virtuous, ah yes.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Brits Abroad

Here's my latest piece in the Guardian, which asks what the French make of crude national stereotyping as practised by Peter Mayle et al.

Brits Abroad

Friday, March 21, 2008

La Petite Anglaise

There's so much expat literature on France at the moment, but does it say anything about that ineffable, perplexing nation? I suspect not. I'm currently writing a piece on this, but in the meantime here's a review I did in Indy of Catherine Sanderson's Petite Anglaise.

Petite Anglaise

Waiting for Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy's first ten months as French prez have been eventful but strangely immobile. Here's a piece I wrote about the man for spiked on-line.

Waiting for Sarko

Homer's Women

I love reading Homer, especially while hanging out on the Greek islands where they have nice stuff like sun, warm sea, nice profiles, god-like sunsets. About the Odyssey, I did this piece in the Guardian Books blog sections, and was relieved that no-one construed this as a crappy Men are from Mars, Women are etc screed. Which of course it's not! Ahem.

Penelope's Progress

First article 2008

Here's the first article I did this year, on American author Nancy Huston for the Independent.

A View from Both Sides