JP Donleavy’s conspiracy theories and Claire Kilroy on writing

The Moth magazineThere are excellent interviews with JP Donleavy and Claire Kilroy in the latest issue of The Moth magazine.

With full accreditation (visit The Moth magazine website here; purchase a subscription to The Moth for €20 a year here) I thought it would be okay to include a couple of brief snippets in the blog.

From an interview with Claire Kilroy, in which the Dublin writer discusses new motherhood, dating alcoholics and the writing process:

Editing is my favourite part of writing because the risk is over, you’ve written your first draft. That’s the bit that I hate because you have to invent, and inventing is hard. Some people find it really exciting to get their story down but I find all of that terrifying because it’s just like the abyss – I literally don’t know what a book is going to be until I’m a year and a half into it – and once I have a first draft, no matter how bad it is, I can work on it. I’m excited then.

The interview with Donleavy is even more fascinating. The real-life inspiration for The Ginger Man’s main protagonist, Sebastian Dangerfield, was Donleavy’s Trinity College friend Gainor Crist, who like Donleavy arrived in Dublin to study on the GI Bill after World War II.

Dangerfield is remembered fondly (once you’ve only known him on the page) as one of the most enduring characters of 20th century literature. Dublin in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s was a city that felt like a village, with “characters” such as Donleavy, Crist, Anthony Cronin and Brendan Behan (who was, incongruously but rather delightfully, one of the first people Donleavy met in Ireland in 1946).

Crist died in 1964 in Tenerife, where the long-haul liner on which he’d been travelling to the US in search of a job had made a stop-off. He was 42.

JP DonleavyCrist’s wife (I thought about adding the qualifier “long-suffering”) Pamela O’Malley de Crist gave an insightful interview to the London Independent in 1995 when she said that she had yet to visit her husband’s grave. In The Moth, Donleavy (right) speaks about his own trip to the Canary isle cemetery.

His tendency towards the tongue-in-cheek is well honed, so I haven’t a clue whether there is honesty in these thoughts, but if you take them at face value it’s a fascinating revelation.

Something very strange happened in connection with Gainor. I went to his grave in Santa Cruz and the man who took me to show me where it was was sort of grinning and laughing, and I realised it could be that Gainor Crist wasn’t buried there. He had a gravestone and all the trimmings, but I knew that he wasn’t down underneath. It’s the first time I’ve ever told this story because it sounds so crazy … He had so many debts and problems and so on, it was the obvious thing to get rid of them all. He buried himself, but he wasn’t in the coffin.

Because repetition is often a good thing (I’ve seen lots of Mad Men) here again are the links to The Moth:

Visit The Moth magazine website here
Purchase a subscription to The Moth for €20 a year here

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