By Rob Doyle.

We were hitchhiking on a freeway on the outskirts of the capital. The situation incited a fearful joy. ‘Cruelty? That’s just like you.’ ‘This is my country, I don’t have to tolerate anyone.’ ‘Natürlich,’ I replied. Cars zoomed past us, a monstrous violence inherent in the world today. We were young and in love and nothing else mattered.

Watching the dreary procession, standing over her grave in the rain… I remember the day like a death sentence. ‘Nothing will ever be the same again.’ Once, during a trip to the provinces, she had told me that being alive is just like staying in a hotel. ‘Then again, when you’re in a hotel, you may as well have sex,’ she’d added huskily.

Rob Doyle out walking along the cliffs on a grey afternoon. His lips move, he talks to himself, frowns for no obvious reason, makes sharp, alarming gestures with his hands. ‘You’re a tourist, and you’re disappearing just like this coastal land.’ He ignores my voice and gazes out to sea. ‘I wish I had one day of life to spend in pure happiness. I also wish I had a dog, having proven already that I can’t live with women.’

Still this struggle to write, fretful and serious in a house on the coast. Listens through the wall to his neighbour having sex, though he was under the impression that she lived alone. ‘Maybe she’s not having sex.’ One bad review and he almost dies of it. Doesn’t leave the house for nearly a week. I email him a quote from Ezra Pound: Ignore criticism from men who have never written notable works. To which I add, ‘For comfort, bear in mind the unreality of life.’


[This is a short extract, the full article is available to read in Issue Two]


Rob Doyle’s first novel, Here Are the Young Men, was first published in June by Lilliput Press, and is published internationally by Bloomsbury from September. His second book, This Is the Ritual, a collection of short fiction, will be published in spring 2015 (Lilliput/Bloomsbury). Rob’s fiction, essays and criticism have appeared in The Dublin Review, The Stinging Fly, the BBC World Service, and elsewhere. He lives in Ireland.

[Image: Detail from ‘From the Driveway #5,’ by Mike Smail]