The art of the list


I was disappointed by Paul Murray’s The Mark And The Void, but I thought this was a marvellous example of the art of the list. The Irish, I know, love a good flow of words enough to forgive any offence – and Paul Murray himself is Irish, after all:

And here, on the teeming road, are the Irish: blanched, pocked, pitted, sleep-deprived, burnished, beaming, snaggle-toothed, balding, rouged, raddled, beaky, exopthalmic; the Irish, with their demon priests, their cellulite, their bus queues and beer bellies, the foreign football teams, betting slips, smartphones and online deals, their dyed hair, white jeans, colossal mortgages, miraculous medals, ill-fitting suits, enormous televisions, stoical laughter, wavering camaraderie, their flinty austerity and seeping corruption, their narrow minds and broad hearts, their drunken speeches, drunken fights, drunken weddings, drunken sex, their books, saints, tickets to Australia, their building-site countryside, their radioactive sea, their crisps, bars, Leucozade, their tattoos, their overpriced wine and mediocre restaurants, their dreams, their children, their mistakes, their punchbag history, their bankrupt state and their inveterate difference….to walk among them is to be plunged into a sea of stories, a human comedy so rich it seems on the point of writing itself. (113)



13 thoughts on “The art of the list

        1. We had a very Irish grandmother- born here but her parents were immigrants. She used to tell us scary stories of the Banshee and say things like “smashed to smithereens”.

            1. Smithereens” first appeared in English in 1829 in the form “smiddereens,” and most likely was borrowed from the Irish “smidirin,” meaning “small bit or fragment.”

              Just found this on a site called funtrivia

  1. I love the Irish brogue. We were in Kinsale, Ireland, near the sea and there were two blokes having a drunken battle of words. I could have sworn I was in Newfoundland. I have relatives from Ireland and Bristol and some from York and that’s only the half of it.

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