Good Reading : March 2006
12 goodreading ı MARCH 2006 The eight-year-old boy is watching the news on television when his mother and sister walk in. ‘What’s in the bags?’ his sister asks. ‘The bits of the bodies of people who have been blown up,’ he replies and goes back to his milk and toast. On screen, police and emergency workers continue to sort through the devastation caused by the bomb at the Abercor n in Belfast. The boy’s mother is shocked by his matter-of-fact response to what she recognises as profoundly abnor mal circumstances. Nick Earls now realises that this interchange was one of the motivating factors in his parents’ decision to leave Northern Ireland in 1972.The image lay dormant in his subconscious for thirty years, only to surface as a scene in his recent novel,The Thompson Gunner, where the main character makes the same comment to her moth- er while watching this footage. Earls thought, at the time of writing it, that he had made up the scene, but he even got the name of the place right: ‘the Abercorn’. Another childhood memory has made it onto the pages of his latest novel: lying in his pram under the yellow flowers of the laburnum tree, feeling a sense of excite- ment and confusion as the flowers dropped from the tree and fell into the pram. These are contrasting images from his childhood in Northern Ireland, as paradoxical as their lifestyle – an idyllic 1620 farm homestead, where he could see Scotland across the water on a clear day; the routine body searches the family had to endure when shopping in Belfast. An early childhood in Ireland has resurfaced recently in the writing of Brisbane author NICK EARLS. He explains his family background and how it has affected his writing to FRANCI CANTATORE. author profile you can take the boy out of Ireland...