‘If am throwing everything out, I maybe just need to stop everything – including this, which is really just amassing. Pointless, selfish amassing. I explain this to my wife. “Yeah, right,” she says. “Don’t go all Simone Weil on us.”’

Ian Sansom: ‘Assault Pack’

number ninety | Spring 2023

In the spring issue of the Dublin Review, Ian Sansom’s diary narrates the last months of his mother’s life. Of caring for his mother as she battles pain and fear, he writes: ‘It is clearly an act of piety on my behalf – in the best and worst sense. It does not make me a good person. It may even make me a bad – or, at the very least, a foolish – person. But it is – for me – necessary. That’s all.’ It is Ian’s sixteenth annual instalment of his diary for The Dublin Review, and the most powerful one yet.

Also in the spring issue, John Butler writes about checking in with an old lover during the pandemic, and learning that he has died. ‘The Men Who Don’t Kiss’ is a vivid evocation of one memorable long-distance relationship and a meditation on the difficulty of finding – or even of knowing – what we need from any relationship.

Needing to access emergency contraception while living in rural Tuscany, Ella Gaynor got on a borrowed bike and cycled an hour to the nearest town with a pharmacy. The journey evoked memories of earlier experiences with the morning-after pill and of the practical and psychological obstacles that must be negotiated. ‘The Morning After’ is an unsettling evocation of the realm where sex meets fear, shame and – sometimes – an officious pharmacist.

Gavin McCrea’s ‘The Pool at Pamukkale’ narrates an electrifying moment when a moment of private communion between lovers on holiday suddenly turns into a scene of mass tourism, and explores the various cultural faultlines the moment exposed. In Laura Morris’s ‘One of Those Faces’, the protagonist tests certain ideas about attraction and respect with an unlikely lover. And Rivkah McKinley’s brilliant ‘My Dispatches’ is frankly impossible to describe – you will simply have to read it.

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