In praise of Lisa McInerney, by Julian Gough

Celebrating Irish women writers: ‘Her work had an incredibly refreshing, no-bullshit energy, her sentences were slangy, 5 per cent as Gaeilge, and swung like jazz, and her sense of humour was explosive, dangerous and original’

My favourite Irish writer born with ovaries is Lisa McInerney (also known as Sweary Lady). For several years, at the height of the Celtic Tiger, Sweary wrote the Arse End of Ireland blog. I read it every week, with enormous pleasure; far more pleasure than I was getting from the (knackered, backward-looking, male-dominated) Irish literary fiction of the time.

My favourite Irish writer born with ovaries is Lisa McInerney (also known as Sweary Lady). For several years, at the height of the Celtic Tiger, Sweary wrote the Arse End of Ireland blog. I read it every week, with enormous pleasure; far more pleasure than I was getting from the (knackered, backward-looking, male-dominated) Irish literary fiction of the time.

 

My favourite Irish writer born with ovaries is Lisa McInerney (also known as Sweary Lady). For several years, at the height of the Celtic Tiger, Sweary wrote the Arse End of Ireland blog. I read it every week, with enormous pleasure; far more pleasure than I was getting from the (knackered, backward-looking, male-dominated) Irish literary fiction of the time.

I had no idea who Sweary Lady was, but weekly, I roared with laughter, and recognition. Her work had an incredibly refreshing, no-bullshit energy, her sentences were slangy, 5 per cent as Gaeilge, and swung like jazz, and her sense of humour was explosive, dangerous and original.

She became a vitally important chronicler of real Irish life, at a time when the country was losing its collective mind, and she did it the hard way, for the love of it, on her own blog, for no pay, with no support from official Ireland. She has a novel coming out next month, The Glorious Heresies, her first, and I hope it has some of the same magnificent energy. Also, unlike Joyce and Beckett, she’s on Twitter, as @swearylady, and you can talk shite with her all day while you both pretend to work. Seek her out.

My number two would be Emma Donoghue, because she’s one of the rare few Irish novelists (whether their gonads are external or internal) with the confidence and ability to write books that aren’t all set in Ireland starring Irish people being very Irish. A citizen and writer of the world.

My number three is Maeve Binchy, because she was a lovely person, with no fear of the deep pleasures of genre fiction. She made the world a better, warmer place through both her life and her art.

“We place great emphasis on belonging, on settling, on marking our boundaries . . . which is why we’re so likely to sell a kidney for the chance to be crippled with a mortgage much, much bigger than our psychological capacity to understand it. How sad. How worthy of a wry smile.”

“Sure means Well, and well means hello, which is not the same as hi, which generally means Oi you!, which is pretty similar to c’mere, which does not mean come over here, but rather is the generic start of an Irish sentence, meaning something along the lines of, ‘Please listen carefully, I am about to speak.’”

“The baby was enormous – she came out at a whopping 9lbs 11oz, about the size of an American burger.”
A few random Lisa McInerney/Sweary Lady quotes, from The Arse End of Ireland blog

Julian Gough, winner of the BBC National Short Story Award, is author of three arty-farty novels, and the narrative at the end of the 60-million-selling computer game, Minecraft.

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