Hot Press Books

'The Story of O' is the autobiography of Olaf Tyaransen, 29-year-old poet, Hot Press journalist and campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis. Mr Tyaransen has given us 155 pages of readable - the whole thing took me two days worth of Dublin public transport - reminiscence about a life of gin, joints, and journalism in the Irish rock scene. It's pretty well written; not too much of the day's lesson is about how great he is, how many famous people he knows, and how much we ought to like him, though I suspect he has enough skill to make himself likeable if he had wanted. The worst to be said of his style is that he writes as if he is terribly afraid of his readers' disrespect, but then, this is an autobiography.

Served as an "essential companion" to the book are three reprinted Hot Press articles; a thrillingly overdone piece on drug prohibition, his account of his campaign as the Legalise Cannabis Party's candidate for the Dáil, and a nice piece of Gonzo reporting from the Ballybunion Batchelor's Festival. It is, by and large, an inoffensive way to spend a few hours.

On the other hand, I cannot imagine what made Mr. Tyaransen, or Hot Press, think anyone would want to read about his life. It must have been cathartic to write several chapters about the long unpleasant ending of his relationship with his girlfriend, but it's a bit much to think that everyone else ought to know about it. Why would we want another book about another self-pitying sot making an ass of himself? After all, this is Ireland; alcoholism is a national industry. Why do we need to read, continually, his heartfelt (and well-argued) opinion that drugs shouldn't be illegal, and of his contempt for the Catholic Church?

Still, the honesty (or at least frankness) seems to have had a hypnotic effect on me, and at the end of it all, I find myself wishing him well. Hopefully, now that this book is out of his system, he will write us something that is less of a triumph of style over content. Some fiction would be nice, Olaf - write us that novel. I promise to tell everyone it's brilliant.

Tim Deegan