Confessions of a Catastrophist

Carlo Gebler

About the book…

Catastrophist, a person who regards historical or political events as progressively disastrous; a pessimist. 
  - Oxford English Dictionary


Over a long career, Carlo
Gébler has written an enormous variety of material including drama for the screen, stage and radio, long and short fiction, memoir, history and travel. He has not, however, written a cookery book though he realizes he might have to. If he does it will be called Burnt Dinners, of course.

When he started writing seriously in the late 1970s there was no internet and 
publishers liked to lunch. Three decades on the literary world has changed: most significantly, it seems no longer congenial or welcoming to literature or those who try to make literature.

As a catastrophist who never doubted from the moment he started that 
conditions in what he calls the Kingdom of Letters would only get worse, Carlo Gébler is not in the least surprised by how things have turned out. It was always going to go downhill (how could it not?) and in his Confessions he describes that process but in his own personal, idiosyncratic and caustic way.

The book is an intriguing mixture of pungent, fierce and striking memoir with 
pithy mordant notes on the literary trade, on the books he’s written and why he wrote them, and on the difficult business of negotiating a way through the thickets and trying to make a living.

It is not a sour book (hopefully): it is a funny book (hopefully), it is unquestionably 
a true book, true about literature and the innumerable humiliations peculiar to it.

Photo of the author, Carlo Gebler

About the author…

Carlo Gébler was born Dublin in 1954, the eldest son of writer parents, Ernest Gébler and Edna O'Brien. He was educated at Bedales School, the University of York, where he studied English, and the National Film & Television School. He has a PhD from Queen's University, Belfast.

Carlo Gébler started his career in television and made a number of documentary films for Channel 4 and others including Over Here, Plain Tales from Northern Ireland, Put to the Test, Student Life, and The Suspecting Glance.

His most recent work for television was The Siege (2013), about the 1689 siege of Derry, aired on BBC Northern Ireland, which he wrote and presented. 

Carlo Gébler is also the author of several novels including; August in July (1987), Malachy and his Family (1991), Life of a Drum (1992), The Cure (1995), How To Murder a Man (1999), A Good Day for a Dog (2008), and The Eleventh Summer (2002) and, most recently, The Dead Eight (2011), which was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. His other works include the short story collection W9 & Other Lives (2011), as well as several works of non-fiction including his memoir, Father & I (2001), and the narrative history, The Siege of Derry (2008).

He has also written several novels for children including Caught on a Train, (2001) which was awarded the Bisto prize, and August ’44, (2003), as well as several plays for both radio and the stage, including; Dance of Death,  December Bride, 10 Rounds, Henry & Harriet,  and, most recently, Charles & Mary. a play for BBC Radio 3, about the lives of the brother and sister who wrote the classic children’s introduction to Shakespeare.

Carlo Gébler’s other literary work includes the librettos for Adolf Gébler, Clarinettist and The Room for the Tower.

He has also written extensively in publications such as the Critical Quarterly, The Dublin Review, Fiction Magazine, The Financial Times, The Guardian, and The Irish Independent, amongst others.

As well as his film-making and literary work, Carlo Gébler has also worked as a teacher and academic. In the early nineties he was the creative writing tutor at the Maze prison and since 1997 he has been the writer-in-residence in HMP Maghaberry. In addition he has taught creative writing at Trinity College, Dublin, where he has been a visiting fellow four times, and at Queen’s University, Belfast. 

Carlo Gebler was elected  a member of the Aosdána in 1990.  He is a past chairman of the Irish Writers’ Centre. He is married with five children and currently resides outside Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.