Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

The Nuclear Option – Declan Lynch and The Rooms

Athlone was part of the wasteland. His father worked in the post office, hismother in the civil service and Declan lived with two sisters, a youngerbrother and soccer.Soccer was crucial in a town like Athlone. The Athlone Town soccer team tookup most of his time and eventually the time of his father when he wrote thehistory of the club, a book that was published before any of Declan’s.

But Declan was graduating onto his own page already. At school, at the Maristin the town, his by-line appeared in the school magazine and as he venturedto Dublin and a law degree in UCD, he progressed to the Hot Press, bythen becoming the Irish equivalent of the NME.

“It was quite a crazy thing to do, to say that you were going to stop doinglaw and start writing for Hot Press, which back then, if youmentioned Hot Press to people it was almost a pornographic magazinebecause there was no music industry in Ireland at the time. There was verylittle prospect of anything.To come from Athlone to Dublin and the music that was happening was soexciting. Again it’s one of these clichés that when I was that age it wasgood, and people say it’s because you were young and everything was excitingbut I think you can look back and see one band after another emerging atthat time, all of them fucking great. There was a real sense of excitement,there was no structure to it, and it wasn’t until a few bands became reallysuccessful like U2, that a music business started to take hold in Ireland.To be suddenly in that world and involved and to be writing about it wasgreat.”

The only thing that might have bettered this existence was a job at theNME.Instead his writing continued apace in the magazine, only he relocated inthe meantime to U.C.C. in Cork. The world he read about in the NME, theworld he fantasised about, the world that fascinated him – now he was a partof it. And he had company. Drink.

“If alcohol had anything to do with brains then it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s not stupid, it’s something else, and who knows what it is.”

His companion fed on his success as a journalist.
“I drank whenever I could. It was always a question of having the money forit. If I had the money for it I would drink it all. And in the ’80s in Corkfor a man to have money to buy drink was a very rare thing, it was a veryprestigious position. A man would have any friends as a result.

The great tragedy of alcohol is the more you drink of it, the more you needand so you need more and more and more to have less and less effects.Eventually you finish up just consuming alcohol because that’s what you doand you’re not really getting a bang for your buck anymore but you’readdicted to it now. It’s the law of diminishing returns.
Even if you’re having a great time a lot of the time, you’re in a lot of badsituations too. It’s a fuckin’ drug and it drives you mad at times but itdoes be very boring, you always remember t
he high points of anything buteventually you’re down in Cork, sitting in the afternoon, drinking pints inthe Phoenix bar in this endless youth and adolescence but it can be boringas well if it becomes a routine.”

Drinking is part of the past now although he brings that world to life inThe Rooms. Neil moves through the decaying life of a recovering rockn roll star, a recovering alcoholic. Sober, sane. No music, no drink. Justunrealistic dreams.Writing the book was a wonderful process if a little weird. For a month itpoured out of him and in one weekend he hardly slept while the words hit thepage. Peace and quiet and a room in his house, a laptop, and a mind solelyfocused on Neil.After the rush of print and a whirlwind which fashioned most of the content,two years of tidying up brought him to the final draft.

“When you’re writing yourself you tend to be wary of reading other thingsbecause a) you think you’ll get discouraged because it’s so good or b) you’ll get angry because it’s so bad and you think I’m great and they’reterrible.”

He doesn�t need a glorious vista to write, he doesn’t need a favourite pen,a smoking jacket or a feathered cap. This world of writing has nothing to dowith routine. His instinct brings him through the journey; it gives himbelief that writing a book is something special and the anger to reaffirmit.
“You can have a very good book about geography lecturers having affairs withhistory lecturers but a great book more or less suggests how you might liveyour life. The Russians and the French had that sense of it being anultimate activity. If you’re actually going to go to the trouble of writinga book, it takes a long time, it’s a real pain in the arse, do the fuckingthing right. Cut to the chase.”

“It’s a real problem to me that so many people are writing books becausemost of them are no good. To this day I would still have this attitude thatwriting books is a very special thing to do. You can’t just be writingchick-lit books, because they’re not books. The stuff that they’re dealingwith, and the way that they deal with them, they are all shite.I don’t know why people are reading them, because it takes time to read abook, it takes energy. I would prefer to listen to a record, so I just can’tunderstand all these people buying all these books and wasting their time.Could they not drink or something and enjoy themselves?”

The subject of drinking swirls through the atmosphere of conversation, he’sas exercised about it as he is about shite books. Neil’s dilemma in TheRooms is that he’s in love with Jamaica, Jamaica loves him and they bothlove alcohol.

“This is why Neil is always struggling because he enjoyed drinking,” he saysas he explains the genesis of the novel.
“A lot of things that can be said about alcoholism can be said about life ingeneral. It is about the meaning of life, in a much heightened way. It’sabout ‘Will I go out and destroy my life?’ It’s simple. Any alcoholic, anyrecovering alcoholic, any day of the week, has the choice to go out anddestroy their life completely. And that’s a very exciting thing and a veryscary thing.

And so to write about it is a very interesting thing, it’s a classicexistential dilemma. You can get your life together after becoming analcoholic, you can build slowly up to get everything together and in fuckin’five minutes you can destroy the whole thing.Over a period of time, you become far more resilient, but at the same timeno matter what happens, life is far too fragile and unpredictable to saythat even in three weeks time I will still be sober. It’s such aninteresting subject in that sense because no matter how much solidity youbuild up, no matter how satisfying your life becomes, you still have thatoption – the nuclear option.”


In his life away from the novel he’s better known as a SundayIndependent journalist. He’s been there quite a long time now, a paperthat sells more than any other Irish Sunday paper, and is happy to defendthe fact that he keeps company there, in spite of the increasing levels ofcriticism directed in the paper’s direction.

In 2005 the paper erroneously reported that a former Irish politician hadbeen with a prostitute in Russia when he died in a car crash.He weighs that up. He contemplates the increasingly flimsy content of thepaper; the reams of social diary and constant bevy of models on page one.And then�

“I couldn’t give a fuck about what else is in it. In a Sunday paperthere will always be a huge variety of stuff in it. You can see a piece byColm Toibin in the Sunday indo, how bad is that?
There are almost no good articles in the Irish Times ever. MostIrish Times journalism is useless. I can’t think of any particularlytalented writers working with the Irish Times. I can think of GeneKerrigan in the Sunday Independent. People have quite blinkeredattitudes to these things. I’ve always been of the view that I’ve been ableto do whatever the fuck I like in the Sunday Indo and that suits mefine. I really enjoy it.
Do you see why I shouldn’t?”
Blank stare.
“Who do you write for?”
“The Kildare Nationalist.”
“Well then�”
Quickly defeated.
“Every Sunday in the independent, I am given a platform to address thenation and I think that’s fuckin’ great and I don’t see a downside to that atall, I really don’t,” he continues.”I get on great with the people that work there, they let me write and theyleave my stuff alone. I could name a number of much vaunted publications inthis town [Dublin] that have driven men mad, fucking jibbering nervouswrecks by their interference. I wouldn’t name them for all sorts of reasonsbut they are very highly regarded publications who treat people like fuckingshit.

I just think the Irish Times is shit basically. Even the way theytreated my book, it took them three months to review it. I don’t think theywere even going to bother their arse reviewing it at all until a couple ofpeople in there said ‘this is kind of good’. I just think they don�t knowabout stuff like that.
I just don’t think it’s much good, I don’t think the writers are much good.There are some like Tom Humphries, who is great, it wouldn’t be a blanketthing.
There are all sorts of agendas in the Irish Times and yet you stillhave these people shiting on about the Sunday Indo � it’s boring andit’s also a kind of ignorance. It’s not very clever as well. There are farmore interesting things about journalism in Ireland.

The best people I’ve worked for are the Sunday Independent, in everysense.Throughout my life I’ve heard horror stories about people writing for otherpublications and being treated badly, being paid shit, all this kind ofstuff and these publications are revered.”

You wonder when the tap might get turned off. The truth is, it probablynever is. There is too much inside him for him to consume. The books and thewriting and the anger allow him to release it, yet it’s the music he’llalways love, in spite of everything else and in spite of his passion forall those subjects, but he still looks at the world around him and findsfodder for his ventures into writing. Reasons to question and write aboutthe meaning of life.

“There seems to be a new way of thinking now, which I resent, and it is thateverything you do is an addiction. If everyone�s addicted to something, thenno one is addicted. There is a growing moralistic thing coming in thatalmost anyone who drinks to any extent is flirting with alcoholism and they’re not at all. Because there is more talk of addiction and we’re more openabout it, it allows in the anti-happiness people. They�re always there; they’re always looking for a fuckin angle, the cunts.”

The Rooms by Declan Lynch is published by Hot Press books

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