Rory Gleeson: ‘Uncertainty is a good thing’

Rockadoon Shore isn’t about young or old people. It’s about how people in general are certain and uncertain and how they can gain a clearer understanding of themselves

Rory Gleeson: I’d always assumed people were stripped of doubt by about the time they were 25, that suddenly they became adults and lost all their vanity, their ego, their insecurity

Rory Gleeson: I’d always assumed people were stripped of doubt by about the time they were 25, that suddenly they became adults and lost all their vanity, their ego, their insecurity

In my first novel, Rockadoon Shore, a group of young friends disturb the living situation of an older farmer, who watches and becomes obsessed with them. Though they interact very little, and each doubt the impact they have on the other, what is clear by the end is that if they were to engage with each other, both would benefit. Malachy, the older man, has lived a large part of his life in certainty. The decisions that have brought him to this point in his life have acquired a sheen, a sureness in them gained by watching them from farther and farther away. It’s only when the young people come to visit that he begins to doubt. This doubt, having been ignored for far too long, will come to be disastrous for him.

Most of the book, however, is told from the perspectives of the six young friends. In writing about young people, particularly about those who are in that muddled zone between youth and adulthood, it can be very tempting to ask, how much do they know? How aware are they of the circumstances surrounding them, the forces that are operating upon them that they might not be conscious of, how well do they know themselves? The problem with this question is that it reduces youth down to a condition, to a distinct state assigned with a set of values marked by a plus or minus. The rebuke I’ve found to this approach is to ask instead, well, how much do they know relative to anyone else? How much better do older people know themselves?

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