Christy Walsh answers thirteen questions in a Booker's Dozen.
CW: Have only just started A River of Bodies by Kevin Doyle. It’s the sequel to his first book To Keep a Bird Singing. The first book gave me a very different view of the Troubles as a political thriller based entirely in Cork without any need to bring the reader up north –essentially the activists in the south had their own dangers and perils to contend with.
TPQ: Best book you have ever read?
CW: I did read Lord of the Rings about six times when still in my teens but would not now describe it as my best book. I don’t think I have one, but certain books for one reason or another are specifically memorable to me –1 book I thoroughly got into was Daughter of Earth by Agnes Smedley – the first half was really good then the second half was like a different writer wrote it and I endured the rest of the book in hope but it never recovered –l ike now when it comes to mind I think of it in regret as to what it could have been. Primo Levi’s If This is a Man is another book written in two contrasting halves – though this one made sense. One novel that was a must read for me was Kafka’s The Trial and oddly enough it was in the Big Cell on H4C. Which reminds me that I also read Faligot’s The Kitson Experiment in the blocks which was supposedly banned in Norn Iron and I came across it in jail of all places –and still have that copy. I also have a signed copy of Kitson’s A Bunch of Fives which I will leave to the conspiracy theorists on how I got him to sign it.
TPQ: A must-read before you die?
CW: My will; I would have a sense of satisfaction that I would have anything to bequeath. And, given how wills can go wrong, I’d have to double check the small print that I didn’t fuck it up.
TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?
CW: I love to get lost in fiction but I find I read a lot more fact based material –I have been reading, on and off for the last six months, Alan Dershowitz’s Premption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways and rereading Naomi Klien’s Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – as well as following a number of favourite blog sites which is probably where I do a significant amount of my daily reading. I started reading non-fiction in my teens –authors like Ernie O’Malley, Tim Pat Coogan, Liz Curtis, and John McGuffin to name a few I can still remember.
TPQ: Favourite female author?
CW: Sue Grafton is good for zoning out and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History was excellent –but poignant reads were Alice Walker’s evocative Colour Purple and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird (which was hard to read and not see Gregory Peck at every reference to Atticus Finch ).
TPQ: Favourite male author?
CW: At the moment Timothy Endicott – his text book on Administrative Law is so easy to digest in comparison to others and so he’s my favourite of the month because he makes life easier for a chapter of my Phd Thesis. In reality I have no favourite – I have just discovered Adrian McKinty and love the grittiness of his writing. I love Stephen King and because he is so prolific a writer his name features prominently, but I have also equally loved reading John Le Carre, Robert Ludlum, and John Grisham to name just a few.
TPQ: First book you ever read?
CW: Can’t remember but Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven Books and Hamilton’s Billy Bunter series are the first independent reading I ever did followed by Walter Macken’s Trilogy.
TPQ: Favourite childhood author?
CW: Richard Adams and Tolkien dominated my teenage years.
TPQ: Any book you point blank refuse to read?
CW: On the Back of a Swallow by you know who – I tried to read it but it is dire shite – it is soooo bad that I have not got the nerve to chance any of his other books in case I revisit that utter waste of time I spent trying to read his first book. I will never get that time back – prison years were infinitely more enriching. That’s a shame really because the man has written some good articles but maybe he is only good at short starts and stops?
TPQ: Any author you point blank refuse to read?
TPQ: Pick a book to give to somebody so that they would more fully understand you.
CW: My memoirs when finished; but I also have a novel on the go which draws from a lot of life experiences.
TPQ: Last book you gave as a present?
CW: Traditional Boats of Ireland: History, Folklore and Construction – first rate reference book for anyone into boats or Irish Maritime History. (This book could in part answer your earlier question as I do some voluntary work in a traditional boat builders yard. I also row and sail and I am a youth rowing coach.)
TPQ: Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?
CW: The Rope Factory by me, when its published.
⏩ Christy Walsh was stitched up by the British Ministry of Defence and spent many years in prison as a result.