By Anthony Cronin
Publication Date: 5/23/23
Anthony Cronin’s account of life in post-war literary Dublin is as funny and colorful as one would expect from an intimate of Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh l, and Myles na Gopaleen (aka Flann O’Brien); but it is also a clear-eyed and bracing antidote to the kitsch that passes for literary history and memory in the Dublin of today.
Cronin writes with remarkable subtlety of the frustrations and pathologies of this generation: the excess of drink, the shortage of sex, the insecurity and begrudgery, the painful limitations of cultural life, and the bittersweet pull of exile. We read of a comical sojourn in France with Behan, and of Cronin’s years in London as a literary editor and a friend of the writer Julian Maclaren-Ross and the painters Robert MacBryde and Robert Colquhoun. The generation chronicled by Cronin was one of wasted promise. That waste is redressed through the shimmering prose of Dead as Doornails, earning its place in Irish literary history alongside the best works of Behan, Kavanagh, and Myles.