Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

The Nuclear Option – Declan Lynch and The Rooms

For a while you think he’s mellowed. You think the sober air and unspoilthalls of the National Gallery are trying to tell you something. The placecan’t speak but it resonates to the clatter of heels on ceramic floors.Upper-class accents utter niceties as middle-aged women, refined from yearsof comfort, ease their way through the crowded caf� floor.

Alone sits a greying, middle-aged man who lived for music, drink andbooks.A cup of coffee sits on the table. No books. No music.
He’s far from alone. His hair is wiry, unkempt almost because the thoughtswhich move through his head are of far more importance. Those thoughts darehim to question life itself and compelled him to write a book thatconsidered what that life means.

“I love the Russian classics and the Americans like F. Scott Fitzgerald andNorman Mailer. There is something about their novels that a writer sits downand thinks ‘I’m going to write. This is what I think the meaning of life is’. They’re not concerned with bed-hopping in Hampstead. They’ve kind of said’ah fuck it, the meaning of life. Will I write about middle-class adulteryor figure out if it’s worth staying alive for another hour?'”

It started as a journey out of youth, delving into something deeper. Ateenager growing up in Athlone in the ’70s he devoured newspapers and books,his mind becoming a dervish of thought in the process. As he neared the endof his teenage years the dervish had found a home on the pages of HotPress. Declan Lynch was born. A music fanatic, a student, ajournalist.
Now a novelist, a recovering alcoholic and a father.

“The old line that Behan was a writer who drank, became a drinker who wroteand then just became a drinker, I would say fuck that, he still createdsomething worthwhile. I would find that view very attractive, that it’sworth sacrificing yourself to create something worthwhile. If you wrote onereally fucking great book – that would do you. Somewhere I would have thatidea still. I think it’s a very important idea. The Rooms is the bookthat is closest to the one I want to write, it’s getting at the meaning oflife.”

So The Rooms sits on our bookshelves and Declan Lynch sits across atable discussing life as a student, life as a drinker, life as it is. But hehasn’t mellowed; this genteel place doesn’t represent the rooms which housedhis life. You have to listen and wait. You have to understand that thejourney to the point of self-destruction is attractive, that he has comeclose to stepping on the plunger and that he could come closer still.

“If I go in here and have this drink, I will die.”
[Opening line, The Rooms]


He went to college in Cork, having studied law for a year in U.C.D. beforedropping out. He admits that the pressure of keeping up appearances playedits part in his brief spell in Dublin, but once he realised law wasn’t forhim he retreated from the spectre of prestige and wealth. Instead he headedfor U.C.C. to pursue his heart, but only to the extent that U.C.D. was a decisionguided by his head and the impressive exam results he achieved in school.Any romantic notions about pursuing his passions are secondary because itwould add colour to a life that wasn’t any different from any other student.Drink was the common currency, he doesn’t pretend any different. Whether hestudied English or not was irrelevant in the milieu of the student bar andthe maelstrom of boozing.

“I met a lot of great people there. I was working for the Hot Pressand had a few quid like. And because every so often I would actually havemoney to buy drink, that made me almost unique probably. I was always goingto be doing journalism so English was the least nonsensical progression.”

English was something he was good at, music was something that he loved andthe Hot Press became a natural medium for him to marry the two.In England the NME wasn’t just a bible of rock music; it was aspivotal to growing up and out of Athlone as food and water was. Lynch sayshe was educated by the NME, by the music and the writers they wroteabout, by the way the NME writers wrote and by the way the NMEcould chronicle a world no one else was bothered with. Newspapers didn’twrite about this sub-culture, this obsession with music and the changingreality of the world they reported on. Rock, punk and pop were oblique termsthat defined a restrained reality. Slowly it began to seep, the laces becamefrayed.

“The NME was like another world, even just reading the ads forgigs. And then there was the Horslips. Horslips were the great bridge fromthe show bands. The Horslips were crucial. With Horslips you would seethings like a mixing desk. You would literally live for a Horslips gig andit might be only every six months. They had roadies, they wrote their ownsongs. They were a precursor for punk rock in many ways. They werebrilliant. They did things that real bands in other places did. They werevital, there was nothing else. There was nothing else going on, it was justa wasteland.”

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