The Ever-So-Wise-And-Hilarious Pete McCarthy

Here. Look. He’s figured it out.

‘As we become more socially and geographically mobile, so the need to belong to some collective past has rocketed; not an invented need, a plastic heritage, as some cynics suggest, but a genuine yearning that’s always been there, but is no longer satisfied. And for many people…God’s gone missing too. He may be back one day, but until then people will seek the reassurance of a wider human context, a bigger picture in which their own walk-on role gives life meaning and signifcance. Everybody wants to be in a good story. It’s a natural impulse to shape the random events we live through into coherent narrative, otherwise our lives would feel like experimental theatre or abstract painting, which would be a complete bloody nightmare. We need a good plot, and if God isn’t available to provide it then an epic human story stretching back in time across far-flung continents fits the bill nicely. And so history and archaoeology are all over our televisions, and genealogical websites implode under the volume of ‘hits’, I believe they’re called. Americans come to European archives, Europeans go to Australian prison records, and people tramp round the west of Ireland going into every pub that bears their name and wondering at their place in it all. In a world that lives increasingly in the moment it’s important to remember where we’ve come from, or we may wake up one morning unable to remember who we are.’

– Pete McCarthy, ‘The Road to McCarthy’

Saddest day ever when I both discovered how excellent a writer this man was and then discovered he was dead. Buy his books. They’re really truly excellent.


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