The Irish Times is remarkable for many reasons. Not least it is a major metropolitan newspaper that publishes fiction. We don’t mean straight reportage compromised by lazy fact-checking that ultimately muddles the truth — that sort of fiction you can find everywhere. No, the Irish Times indulges its readers by publishing what’s known today as creative fiction, the genre. In the land of James Joyce, John McGahern, and Anne Enright, they just call it by it’s old name: literature.
This month the Irish Times selected for its Hennessy New Irish Writing series a sharp, atmospheric love story by Niall McArdle — 19 Ways To Say I Love You. Its format follows its title’s lead, as it’s constructed out of 19 brief vignettes, both savage and full of heart. 19 Ways is the kind of subtle, reverberating story that manages to mention Yeats, without the need to name him. (You can do that in Ireland, apparently.) God, on the other hand? He gets called by His proper name. The Devil, too. “I feel sorry for the Devil,” we read. “He had his heart broken. God threw him over for us. I wonder does God ever want to get back together with him?”