As Lynne Ramsay takes Morvern Callar to Cannes, its author is treading the same island landscape in his new novel. In Dublin ALAN WARNER talks about Choral sex, being thick and The Man Who Walks.
Words: Brian Donaldson
‘ eware of hull.‘ The sign in the traditional Dublin boozer B paraphrases much of the advice l‘d received since telling
people I was off to Ireland to meet Alan Warner. One journalist told me of an interview that was conducted with the author‘s female friend in attendance. After every clever Warner reply or choice Warner hon mot. they would turn and giggle at each other. The journalist was left with the impression that he'd been in the company of high pretension.
Another said that the second time they met up. Warner was more centred. less self-indulgent and not so wild. I atn a Warner virgin. But the first—time nerves. which horder fear and anticipation. dissipate minutes after the big man (and he is big) enters Paddy l‘laherty’s. His huild suggests he could have been an aggressive centre forward if he had cared for football instead of literature. ‘liveryone would he playing five-a-side on a Saturday or at a match and I‘d he down the river reading poetry and trying to shag their sisters.’ he says.
A warm. giving interviewee. he never loses patience with the fact that many of the literary references he drops mean little or nothing to me. 'Have you ever read . . . I" is one of his favourite questions. Still. I have read the complete Warner oeuvre: he laughineg apologises when I tell him that These Demented Lands (his second novel. a largely impenetrable trip through his own vision of Hell) once found its way into my (‘hristmas stocking. I had been warned to expect a forensic interrogation of his own work. yet he actually seems genuinely touched that I‘ve hothered to even open one of his ‘self— indulgent hooks‘.
But to those he feels don‘t get his art: tough. ‘I wish I was a
popular writer but I just can't do that.‘ he says sipping today‘s first pint of Guinness. ‘You‘ve got to write what you've got to write. Some people like 7-L'p. some like Diet Coke: that’s the way it goes. I always wonder how an author writes for their audience: how do they even know what that is‘.’ Is it a pensioner in Thurso or a teenager in Land's End. or someone in Glasgow or Tokyo‘.’ I find all that very hard to deal with hecause l have no concept of the audience.’
Whatever Warner‘s image of his fanhase is. his audience is one that continues to sprout. His
l995 dehut Morvern ('ul/ur focused on an ()han girl who
discovers her hoyfriend dead
on page one. before she finds his novel and passes it off as be
her own. ‘Death Of The
Author‘ and all that. Postmodern. him'.’ As
Macushla. his main character in The Man Who Walks. is wont to say: ‘liuck off. yacuntya’.
Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay has followed up her own auspicious dehut Rateureher with her version of the tale. starring Samantha Morton as Morvern.
‘Samantha Morton is great.‘ says Warner. ’l'd heen knocking around with her in the pubs in ()han and then she came on set as Morvern and everything about her had changed: her posture. the way she held herself. the clothes. It was staggering. The first twenty minutes of the film are hrutal; the seats‘ll he snapping up at Cannes. I tell you. I really don‘t see it doing a Bil/y [fl/fol; it’s too good a lilm.‘
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