I’m hung over. I’ve never eaten sushi. I don’t know how to order it. I can’t use chopsticks. I’ve never conducted an interview before. And I’ve come away without my bloody glasses.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 4:00 PM
THE MICHIGAN LEAGUE (Hussey Room)
U OF M Main Campus
O'Neill will be at the League this Monday to talk about his writing process and be characteristically awesome and inspiring. Read his 2003 profile of Cate Blanchett as a teaser--it burns new life into the tired "I'm a nervous fan!" interview framing device, in which the subject always arrives an hour late and the writer is left to sweat and wring napkins in neurotic anticipation. Hell, it just about resuscitates the entire interview genre. O'Neill comes recommended by major-league smarties, and he wrote At Swim, Two Boys over ten years while working the night shift as a porter in a London psychiatric hospital. If ever there was a hero for the struggling, disenfranchised writer, this is yr Stevie Dedalus.
I tell them about my postman. When I came to Galway, he knocked on my door.
‘O’Neill,’ says he, reading the envelope, ‘that’s not a Galway name.’
‘No,’ says I.
‘There was a good hurler named O’Neill, you’re not related?’
‘I’m not,’ I say. My boyfriend comes down the stairs.
‘That wouldn’t be your brother now,’ says the postman, peering in. And I think to myself, Right, I’m going to do you, mister.
‘This is my boyfriend,’ I say. ‘He’s French. We’ve moved to Galway on the head of a novel I’ve written. It’s about two Dublin boys who fall in love, getting mixed up in the Easter Rising.’
‘Well,’ says my postman and he shakes my hand, ‘isn’t it just what Gortachalla needs?’
(At Swim in Canada)