Barry Gilheany answers 13 questions in a Booker's Dozen.
TPQ: What are you currently reading?
BG: Jumping between book as is my wont but I will pick out The Age of Surveillance. The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff. Required reading for all those who need to know about the dynamics of digital capitalism and the rapacious pursuit of the raw material of behavioural surplus by the robber barons of our age – the tech giants; Google, Facebook, Microsoft and the rest.
TPQ: Best book you ever read?
BG: How long have we got? Like asking me who my favourite pop artist is! I will say Germinal by Emile Zola. Describes the human decay that alcoholism involves in excruciating, degrading but compulsive (dare I say addictive) style.
TPQ: Book most cherished as a child?
BG: Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
TPQ: Favourite childhood author?
BG: Enid Blyton
TPQ: First book to really own you?
BG: Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. Gave me a perspective on the Spanish Civil War that I had not been aware off and opened my eyes on the monstrousness of Stalinism from a leftist but libertarian perspective.
TPQ: Favourite male and female author?
BG: Christopher Hitchens and Val MacDiarmid.
A Berlin Book Tower in memory of the Nazi book burning.
BG: Fact, but the literary mind must always be open to stretching the imagination which good fiction reading entails.
TPQ: Any book you steadfastly refuse to read?
BG: None. Self-censorship never works. To understand the evil that Adolf Hitler did and personified, it may be necessary to read Mein Kampf for example.
TPQ: Any author you point blank refuse to read?
BG: None for the same reason as in the last question. I find the ideas of Gilad Atzmon repellent but I had to read his book The Wandering Who to understand why and the forces impelled in his ideological and philosophical journey.
TPQ: A book to share with somebody so that they would fully understand you?
BG: A difficult one this. But as somebody on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum I will nominate Neurotribes. The Legacy of Autism and how to Think Smarter about People who Think Differently by Steve Silberman.
TPQ: The last book you gave as a present?
BG: I cannot remember the last one but I did send my father a book on the Dundalk part of the Great Northern Railway Line (sorry I cannot recall the exact title as it is not in my possession now obviously) where he worked during the war. It was given to me in a chance encounter with a railway enthusiast when I was out doing a conservation task in Colchester.
TPQ: Book you would most like to see turned into a film?
BG: Catch and Kill. Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow. We need a signature film for the #MeeToo era.
TPQ: A “must read” you intend chalking up before you die?
BG: War and Peace by Tolstoy.
⏩Barry Gilheany is a freelance writer, qualified counsellor and aspirant artist resident in Colchester where he took his PhD at the University of Essex. He is also a lifelong Leeds United supporter seeking the Promised Land of the Premiership!