Saturday 29 April 2017

Gene Kerrigan: A man of his word, who loved the story

Aengus Fanning had only one rule as editor and that was 'don't bore the reader', writes Gene Kerrigan

In his office one day he pointed to a shelf, at a novel by Colm Toibin, who by then had made the move from journalism into widely acclaimed fiction.

Terrific writer, Aengus said, but he shook his head and claimed he didn't understand this urge to write books. You spend a year writing a novel, he said, and what -- maybe a few thousand people read it? How could that compare with writing in a Sunday newspaper that was read every week by a million people?

He was being mischievous, knowing I was writing a book at the time. Aengus Fanning's conversation -- maybe a quote from Kavanagh or an argument drawn from a history of European politics -- showed him to be more widely read than most of us. He once harboured thoughts of writing fiction. But at the centre of his working life there was a deep, consuming, uncomplicated love of newspapers.

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