Alan Cunningham’s name has been on the rise of the literary scene for a while now. Having published his first book, Count From Zero to One Hundred in 2013, the Irish native is one of the most exciting emerging writers on the scene today.
Cunningham’s writing of Count From Zero To One Hundred had incompleteness at its heart, as he describes it. “It was not so much inspired as crafted out of what felt like necessity, at the time,” he explains. “One of the things I’m interested in is incompleteness, the appearance of incompleteness – both in form and content.”
His other writings have been similarly experimental, notably his New Green Fool essays, some of which have been published in literary journal Gorse. “They use ‘The Green Fool’ by Patrick Kavanagh as a very amorphous kind of reference point for the exploration of many, many other things and perhaps, towards the end, the distortion of certain things.”
He says that he has “no preferred form” in writing, but explains that he recognises “how easy and comforting it is to return to a familiar style, one which has perhaps worked before.” He does, however, enjoy a challenge. “For me the form will come to mirror the intention – the expression – so that, it is hoped, the final thing has a satisfying heft to it that can be only what it is.
For me the form will come to mirror the intention – the expression – so that, it is hoped, the final thing has a satisfying heft to it that can be only what it is
“I’m a bit dismayed at the modern compulsion for these well crafted, weighty, just so perfect and complete novels, I must say – they communicate little to me and one can always see the cogs working away in the background. I want to be a little shocked, a little surprised. I want to be fascinated.”
Despite his dismay, he is adamant that “there are interesting and exciting things happening both with writing in Ireland – and by Irish writers outside of Ireland.” Both of these categories apply to Cunningham, a writer who is of Ireland, yet writes outside of it. He is a writer who is at the fore of new and experimental writing, both at home and abroad.