Darryl, far left, joins me and a few others for Thanksgiving dinner in Belfast.
My In the Fray essay about Northern Ireland from a couple days ago focuses a lot on the Protestant side of things. Below, you’ll find an interview I conducted a couple years ago with Darryl Petticrew, a Catholic friend of mine. Darryl grew up in Ardoyne, a part of Belfast that is mentioned in the essay. I think you’ll find the transcript of our conversation interesting:
Me: “What was growing up in Ardoyne like? How often did you cross over into the likes of, say, the Shankill?”
I spent the last four days in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference. It was my first time at the conference and in the city, but time well-spent connecting with classmates, meeting other writers, having conversations about craft, listening to readings, etc.
Over the weekend, I was doing some online-literary-journal browsing, just some catching up, trying to see what’s going on in that world. The most interesting thing I found was an interview between Booth‘s Susan Lerner and Jonathan Franzen. In the interview’s introduction, Lerner calls Franzen “arguably the best living American novelist” — I’m never quite sure how we go about making and justifying these claims — but she was also quite clear that during Franzen’s visit to Indianapolis, he had been kind, present, and pleasant. If such a disclaimer seems defensive, you can forgive her because Franzen has such a tendency to make headlines in all the wrong ways. As the story goes, several years ago, he even pissed Oprah off.
Back in the fall of 2006, I got assigned to room with Luke Kintigh while we were both one-semester students at The American Studies Program in Washington, D.C. We became fast friends, probably first and foremost because we had the same hobby on Saturday afternoons.