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Yes, but also one of the problems for a novelist in Ireland is the fact that there are no formal manners. I mean some people have beautiful manners but there's no kind of agreed form of manners.
When you're in danger of losing a thing it becomes precious and when it's around us, it's in tedious abundance and we take it for granted as if we're going to live forever, which we're not.
When I was in my 20s it did occur to me that there was something perverted about an attitude that thought that killing somebody was a minor offence compared to kissing somebody.
When I start to write, words have become physical presence. It was to see if I could bring that private world to life that found its first expression through reading. I really dislike the romantic notion of the artist.
We absolutely believed in Heaven and Hell, Purgatory, and even Limbo. I mean, they were actually closer to us than Australia or Canada, that they were real places.
The way I see it is that all the ol' guff about being Irish is a kind of nonsense. I mean, I couldn't be anything else no matter what I tried to be. I couldn't be Chinese or Japanese.
The rosary was said every evening. I always liked that sentence about the medieval Churches, that they were the Bibles of the poor. The Church was my first book and I would think it is still my most important book.
My father was very outwardly religious.
Ireland is a peculiar society in the sense that it was a nineteenth century society up to about 1970 and then it almost bypassed the twentieth century.
I've never written anything that hasn't been in my mind for a long time - seven or eight years.
I used to take five or six books away and bring five or six books back. Nobody gave me direction or advice and I read much in the way that a boy might watch television.
I think there's a great difference in consciousness in that same way in that when we're young we read books for the story, for the excitement of the story - and there comes a time when you realise that all stories are more or less the same story.
I think that each of us inhabits a private world that others cannot see. The only difference between the writer and the reader is that the writer is able to dramatise that private world.
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