Stuart Franklin is a photographer who began his career with the Sygma agency and then joined the Magnum agency in 1985. A full member of Magnum since 1989, he served as the agency’s elected president between 2006 and 2009. His book of images about Europe’s changing landscape was published as Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux in 2008. (May 2019)
Dark rooms. Beethoven. Dogs. Red-haired women. Oedipal fantasies. These memories and constituent parts of childhood became the baggage Ellroy carried into his new adopted family: the fraternity of detectives. “I very simply gave my heart to the police officers on the occasion of my mother’s death,” Ellroy told me. He never took it back. It lives and breathes in the friendships he enjoys with cops and in the avatars he created in his fiction, from The Black Dahlia (1987) to the recent novels Perfidia (2014) and his most recent, This Storm (2019). The discipline of writing, from age thirty, became a lifejacket that kept Ellroy afloat above the tide of decrepitude that shaped his early years.
A few family mementos in the municipal museum are almost the extent of Louis MacNeice’s legacy here. No streets, pubs, or parks are named after the town’s best-known literary figure. Like many of the poorer regions of Northern Ireland, Carrickfergus today is in social and economic decline. Opportunities are so sparse that over the last two decades more than a quarter of the population has moved away. In the absence of meaningful jobs, mental health referrals and suicides have spiked. “The tragic irony of life in Northern Ireland today,” the journalist Lyra McKee, recently killed by Republican militants, wrote in 2016, “is that peace seems to have claimed more lives than war ever did.” The words with which MacNeice began his testament “Landscape of Childhood and Youth” seem to capture the mood: “In the beginning was the Irish rain.”