Matt Treacy answers thirteen questions in a Booker's Dozen.


TPQ: What are you currently reading?

MT: E.L Doctorow’s short story collection Sweet Land Stories. There is one brilliant story ‘Walter John Harmon’ about a cult leader which is funny but also salutary, The narrator reminds me of quite a few people who can find the capacity to excuse basically anything. Also reading Nadezhda Mandelstem’s Hope Abandoned, one of two books she wrote about herself and her husband the poet

Osip Mandelstem who was murdered by Stalin for writing a poem about him. The Kremlin Mountaineer. Moved them around and exiled them and arrested them like a cat with a mouse before sending Osip to a camp but the old bollox died before he got to Nadezhda. Sad books about the reality of “scientific socialism”, or any form of totalitarianism.

TPQ: Best book you have ever read?

MT: The one I’ve read most is Great Expectations by Dickens. He was the master of characterisation. Quilp in Old Curiosity Shop is one of the most sinister people in fiction. Also maybe favourite movie along with the original Moby Dick (also a brilliant book.”) The 1946 film with Alec Guinnes and John Mills comes closest to capturing the ideas Dickens creates in your mind. 

TPQ: A must-read before you die?

MT: For me – the book that will be written from the archives when/if they are ever released about what happened to the republican movement between 1983 and 2005. Probably neither will ever happen, so will never be read. 

TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?

MT: Find it hard to tell the difference any more. I love the way that some republicans of your acquaintance have side stepped the Fatwa on books written without the imprimatur of the bosses, to turn history into good fiction and art and personal accounts. People I only know through TPQ really; Richard O’Rawe, Sam Millar, Dixie Eliott, Frankie Quinn, Paul McGlinchey, the stuff about Dolours and Brendan Hughes, your own of course, lots of other stuff I can’t think of off hand, even our own Dub Frankie Gaffney in a way as someone whose formative years were with us, So that’s my next book if I cant get bigger audience for the last one. Our history as Milan Kundera wrote about reality under Stalinism through fiction. If that’s not too much of a stretch. Richard’s books about the prison and Sam’s and yours and others accounts are the real history, but they are faced with a barrage of lies and censorship. A curious combination of people who don’t like republicans anyway and the tamed ones. Which is what annoys them so there is tacit coalition of old time revisionists and ceasefire Provies to shut it down, so that’s the next one.

TPQ: Favourite female author? 

MT: Off top of my head. Doris Lessing. The Good Terrorist is very good. Sad like all books about those of us who were once believers. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Wait till Next Year about the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s is one of best sports books, or any sort of book you will ever read. Whether you know anything about baseball or not.

TPQ: Favourite male author?

MT: Would be toss up between Dickens and Mailer. Two prolific writers who captured the times they lived in. Mailer did write some terrible books but Naked and the Dead, Harlot’s Ghost, the books about Oswald and Gilmore are masterworks, whereas Dickens only wrote some weaker ones, so if it was a competition then the Brit wins! And Flann O’Brien who never wrote anything bad, so him!

TPQ: First book you ever read?

MT: Used to read piles of books when I was a child. Ladybirds were first then Enid Blyton, First proper big book I read was Robinson Crusoe when I was 6 or 7 and used to get up early before school to read at the window before anyone was awake.


A Berlin Book Tower in memory of the Nazi book burning.

TPQ: Favourite childhood author?

MT: Enid Blyton. Remember reading all the Mystery books. I found copy of Secret of Moon Castle in Chapters when Ciara was 5 or 6 and she loved it too when I read it for her. She was great writer, but is now being “no platformed” by people who would have stood over you in the Cambodian rice paddies. About time someone called out Fatty and lashings of ginger beer.

TPQ: Any book you point blank refuse to read?

MT: I not only stopped reading Naked Lunch by Burroughs but gave it away. Thought it was repulsive, gratuitous nonsense, Then read Junky years later which was good. Loved Kerouac and all those characters when I was in teens but when you find out more about them; himself, Ginsberg and others were not particularly nice people. Burroughs was a better person I think and fell out with Kerouac over way Kerouac denied his daughter who became a junkie prostitute in New York for a while. Not as romantic as it seemed to me when I was 16.

TPQ: Any author you point blank refuse to read?

MT: No. In prison we used devour books and we had all sorts of mad stuff sent in by would be suitors, So I have even read Enver Hoxha on the cultural struggle of the Albanian national bourgeoisie. Surprised it hasn’t been taken up by Netflix. I once sent a fiver to Athol Books in Belfast which was an offshoot of two nationist Marxists, asking them to send me some pamphlet they had sold and they sent me in about a dozen different books and pamphlets, and returned the fiver! Fair play to them. So, would read more or less anything. Good for making one question things. 

TPQ: Pick a book to give to somebody so that they would more fully understand you.

MT: Not a book, a story. James Joyce The Dead. How the good and bad things all come together. Sometimes in the one day, and how we never understand even those we are closest to or what really makes them what they are. An impossibility.

TPQ: Last book you gave as a present?

MT: Dublin the Chaos Years about the Dublin footballers in the pre-global domination era. Gave it my Da last year. But read it before being careful not to damage the spine. Seems to be going out of fashion now but my family always gave one another books. One of Christmas treats was getting my Dub granny a book about the Tan War and then having her narrate the whole thing by picking out people who she had known and giving her not always complimentary opinion of them. Didn’t realise it at time, but in hindsight she was haunted by a youth in which anything had seemed possible but turned out to be otherwise. Well, a lot of us know that one.

TPQ: Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?

MT: My brother and I are big Flann O’Brien fans and used to quote lines to one another. “Is that your package on the road?” which was prelude to a shovel murder, not by us I hasten to add. So a movie of At Swim Two Birds or The Third Policeman would be something, but how anyone would translate Strabane surrealism to film is beyond me. Blue Umbrella theatre did a stage version of The Third Policeman about ten years ago. A few of us were told to stop laughing during it. Which tells its own story! 


Matt Treacy is a writer and a former republican prisoner.


Booker's Dozen @ Matt Treacy

Matt Treacy answers thirteen questions in a Booker's Dozen.


TPQ: What are you currently reading?

MT: E.L Doctorow’s short story collection Sweet Land Stories. There is one brilliant story ‘Walter John Harmon’ about a cult leader which is funny but also salutary, The narrator reminds me of quite a few people who can find the capacity to excuse basically anything. Also reading Nadezhda Mandelstem’s Hope Abandoned, one of two books she wrote about herself and her husband the poet

Osip Mandelstem who was murdered by Stalin for writing a poem about him. The Kremlin Mountaineer. Moved them around and exiled them and arrested them like a cat with a mouse before sending Osip to a camp but the old bollox died before he got to Nadezhda. Sad books about the reality of “scientific socialism”, or any form of totalitarianism.

TPQ: Best book you have ever read?

MT: The one I’ve read most is Great Expectations by Dickens. He was the master of characterisation. Quilp in Old Curiosity Shop is one of the most sinister people in fiction. Also maybe favourite movie along with the original Moby Dick (also a brilliant book.”) The 1946 film with Alec Guinnes and John Mills comes closest to capturing the ideas Dickens creates in your mind. 

TPQ: A must-read before you die?

MT: For me – the book that will be written from the archives when/if they are ever released about what happened to the republican movement between 1983 and 2005. Probably neither will ever happen, so will never be read. 

TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?

MT: Find it hard to tell the difference any more. I love the way that some republicans of your acquaintance have side stepped the Fatwa on books written without the imprimatur of the bosses, to turn history into good fiction and art and personal accounts. People I only know through TPQ really; Richard O’Rawe, Sam Millar, Dixie Eliott, Frankie Quinn, Paul McGlinchey, the stuff about Dolours and Brendan Hughes, your own of course, lots of other stuff I can’t think of off hand, even our own Dub Frankie Gaffney in a way as someone whose formative years were with us, So that’s my next book if I cant get bigger audience for the last one. Our history as Milan Kundera wrote about reality under Stalinism through fiction. If that’s not too much of a stretch. Richard’s books about the prison and Sam’s and yours and others accounts are the real history, but they are faced with a barrage of lies and censorship. A curious combination of people who don’t like republicans anyway and the tamed ones. Which is what annoys them so there is tacit coalition of old time revisionists and ceasefire Provies to shut it down, so that’s the next one.

TPQ: Favourite female author? 

MT: Off top of my head. Doris Lessing. The Good Terrorist is very good. Sad like all books about those of us who were once believers. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Wait till Next Year about the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s is one of best sports books, or any sort of book you will ever read. Whether you know anything about baseball or not.

TPQ: Favourite male author?

MT: Would be toss up between Dickens and Mailer. Two prolific writers who captured the times they lived in. Mailer did write some terrible books but Naked and the Dead, Harlot’s Ghost, the books about Oswald and Gilmore are masterworks, whereas Dickens only wrote some weaker ones, so if it was a competition then the Brit wins! And Flann O’Brien who never wrote anything bad, so him!

TPQ: First book you ever read?

MT: Used to read piles of books when I was a child. Ladybirds were first then Enid Blyton, First proper big book I read was Robinson Crusoe when I was 6 or 7 and used to get up early before school to read at the window before anyone was awake.


A Berlin Book Tower in memory of the Nazi book burning.

TPQ: Favourite childhood author?

MT: Enid Blyton. Remember reading all the Mystery books. I found copy of Secret of Moon Castle in Chapters when Ciara was 5 or 6 and she loved it too when I read it for her. She was great writer, but is now being “no platformed” by people who would have stood over you in the Cambodian rice paddies. About time someone called out Fatty and lashings of ginger beer.

TPQ: Any book you point blank refuse to read?

MT: I not only stopped reading Naked Lunch by Burroughs but gave it away. Thought it was repulsive, gratuitous nonsense, Then read Junky years later which was good. Loved Kerouac and all those characters when I was in teens but when you find out more about them; himself, Ginsberg and others were not particularly nice people. Burroughs was a better person I think and fell out with Kerouac over way Kerouac denied his daughter who became a junkie prostitute in New York for a while. Not as romantic as it seemed to me when I was 16.

TPQ: Any author you point blank refuse to read?

MT: No. In prison we used devour books and we had all sorts of mad stuff sent in by would be suitors, So I have even read Enver Hoxha on the cultural struggle of the Albanian national bourgeoisie. Surprised it hasn’t been taken up by Netflix. I once sent a fiver to Athol Books in Belfast which was an offshoot of two nationist Marxists, asking them to send me some pamphlet they had sold and they sent me in about a dozen different books and pamphlets, and returned the fiver! Fair play to them. So, would read more or less anything. Good for making one question things. 

TPQ: Pick a book to give to somebody so that they would more fully understand you.

MT: Not a book, a story. James Joyce The Dead. How the good and bad things all come together. Sometimes in the one day, and how we never understand even those we are closest to or what really makes them what they are. An impossibility.

TPQ: Last book you gave as a present?

MT: Dublin the Chaos Years about the Dublin footballers in the pre-global domination era. Gave it my Da last year. But read it before being careful not to damage the spine. Seems to be going out of fashion now but my family always gave one another books. One of Christmas treats was getting my Dub granny a book about the Tan War and then having her narrate the whole thing by picking out people who she had known and giving her not always complimentary opinion of them. Didn’t realise it at time, but in hindsight she was haunted by a youth in which anything had seemed possible but turned out to be otherwise. Well, a lot of us know that one.

TPQ: Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?

MT: My brother and I are big Flann O’Brien fans and used to quote lines to one another. “Is that your package on the road?” which was prelude to a shovel murder, not by us I hasten to add. So a movie of At Swim Two Birds or The Third Policeman would be something, but how anyone would translate Strabane surrealism to film is beyond me. Blue Umbrella theatre did a stage version of The Third Policeman about ten years ago. A few of us were told to stop laughing during it. Which tells its own story! 


Matt Treacy is a writer and a former republican prisoner.


4 comments:

  1. I do enjoy Matt's vituperations!

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Quilp in Old Curiosity Shop is one of the most sinister people in fiction.

    Must go back and check how Dicken's creates the Quilp character

    ReplyDelete
  3. A good one Matt I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete