“Words were my only love and not many”

The Guardian’s Review section has another wonderful article to mark the centenary of the birth of Samuel Beckett, today it’s the thoughts and the rememberances of the writer Edna O’Brien.

Our last meeting was in the Pullman Hotel in Paris in 1989, a crowded venue in which he, tall and gaunt, seemed like a carved figure from some bygone civilisation, aloof from the frenzied surroundings. He asked if I agreed that the air in his arrondissement was very clean and very fresh. I couldn’t in all honesty concur. The talk got around to the hereafter. I said I had a fine gravesite on an isolated island in the Shannon. After a short pause, it became clear that his remains were not bound for the cold mantled land. He told me how Donald McWhinnie had telephoned him from his deathbed, hoping for a word of wisdom.

“What did you tell him?”

“Not much,” was the hapless reply.