Geoff Dyer

Dublin’s burning

[Image: Matthew Thompson]

[Image: Matthew Thompson]

Rob Doyle interviewed by Susan Tomaselli.

Rob Doyle is an Irish-born short story writer and essayist. His novel, Here Are the Young Men (Lilliput Press), is a visceral coming of age story depicting the darker side of Dublin. It is incendiary stuff, steeped in the literary nihilism of Bret Easton Ellis and Michel Houellebecq, the boredom of JG Ballard. Heads turned by images of violence on television news, and in computer games, Matthew, Rez, Kearney and Cocker set out to expose ‘our nation’s corrupted soul to the ravages of the moral plague that has assailed us, and to our collective horror and incomprehension in the face of it,’ by staging their ‘own 9-11.’ Susan Tomaselli met Rob Doyle in the bustling Library Bar. The conversation ran for one hour with the recorder on, then continued for a few hours more, ending in an exhibition of Wally Cassidy’s street photography in Temple Bar. [PDF]

Non-creative writing


Geoff Dyer’s Art of Nonfiction Paris Review interview.

My motto is always, “If you’re not overprepared you’re underprepared.” I’m a grammar-school boy, I do my homework. Likewise, in the fiction, so much of the stuff is drawn from real life. But that’s not the point really. The point is that the techniques are pretty much the same in fiction and nonfiction. It’s not like Susan Sontag, where there’s an easily recognizable division between the two. Sontag was always saying, Why don’t you adequately acknowledge the greatness of my fiction? Well, there are several possible responses to that, but the important thing is that she accepted a separation that I reject. It’s just a bunch of books. To go back to your earlier question, I think the distinction between fiction and nonfiction is less about “Did it really happen or was it made up?” than it is about form. And, more than form, it’s about the expectations that are brought to certain forms. According to how a book is presented, packaged, or identified, readers have certain expectations. Following from that they expect books within broadly identified categories to behave in certain ways. So people can find it quite disconcerting when a book isn’t doing what they think it’s meant to be doing, even if the book is completely fine on its own terms and has no desire to conform to some external set of expectations. My books are often disappointing in that regard. Maybe in other ways, too, but I am mercifully and necessarily oblivious on that score.

‘More in men to admire than to despise’


Geoff Dyer on his hero, Albert Camus.

I was drawn to Albert Camus because he looked so cool in his trenchcoat, because the Cure wrote a song inspired by one of his books (The Outsider), because he and his pug-ugly friend Sartre were existentialists (which seemed related, somehow, to the trenchcoat). Their falling-out could hardly have been more acrimonious but, as can happen, the rupture contained a measure of agreement: both accepted that Camus had never really been an existentialist. For him this was a matter less of intellect than of temperament, of the defining facts of his early life: being born (100 years ago this week) into a world of sunlight and poverty in Algiers.