TPQ: What are you currently reading?
LH: Just finished reading Carcass Trade … Detective fiction by Noreen Ayres. A fast-paced little paperback about undercover investigation in Orange County USA.
TPQ: Best and worst books you have ever read?
LH: The best are numerous. But in adulthood it would be Le Carre - The Tailor Of Panama and the Stieg Larrson trilogy - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.
Worst was a book recommended at university on the Thirty Years War which I was excited to order on Amazon and when it arrived, read like an appendix. It was a couple of hundred pages of back to back footnotes. Can’t remember the author or title. It is in my flat in Spain. I only remember the disappointment.
TPQ: Book most cherished as a child?
LH: Ladybird book Ned the Donkey …first book I read cover to cover and I thought I was great. So a word of warning… Don't Fuck With Ned.
TPQ: Favourite Childhood author?
LH: Didn’t have one.
TPQ: First book to really own you?
LH: Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck … read it when I was about 14 and it was traumatic stuff. It shocked me: the cruelty of circumstance and ‘life’ I suppose. Around same time War And An Irish Town - Eamonn McCann. Michael Farrell wrote some good stuff too - The Orange State.
TPQ: Favourite male and female author?
LH: Male … I actually enjoyed Bill Bryson and his observations but not the ‘Big Bang’ A Short History of Nearly Everything. I put that down after a chapter or two and never went back to it. I also really enjoy Michael Moore. He rips it up. Jeremy Clarkson was funny too.
Female. The only one comes to mind is the book I just finished. Noreen Ayres. Wonder is she related to Pam Ayres the English poet? I don’t read Mills and Boon.
A Berlin Book Tower in memory of the Nazi book burning.
TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?
LH: I like fact. I don’t like sci fi - bullshit reading. I like fact-based like Churchill And The Irish Marshals. Five of the seven British generals in WW2 were Irishmen. Historical, or if it is non- historical or biographical, then detective type novels. We had good men stayed home too. Guerilla Days in Ireland - Tom Barry.
TPQ: Biography, autobiography or memoir that most impressed you?
LH: Have to be Tom Crean or Paddy Blair Mayne. I love the way the Irish militarily excel in proper military outfits and both the British Empire and USA were wonderful theatres for the Irish in more recent years after the defeat of the Gaelic Irish Catholic order and the opportunities available in Catholic European armies of centuries earlier. Crean epitomized the ruggedness of the Irish for me. Mayne is a man after my own heart, 60 minute warning me bollix lol. Ned Kelly and Billy are eternal legends.
TPQ: Any author or book you point blank refuse to read?
LH: Probably Sci Fi or Bible thumpers like Paisley or the God Squad in the USA.
TPQ: A book to share with somebody so that they would more fully understand you?
LH: Bandit Country - Toby Harnden. That is where my heart will always be.
TPQ: Last book you gave as a present?
LH: American Terrorist … About Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma (fertilizer) Bombing. Gave it to my dad. I always meant to give him the Fall Of Singapore. He was in the RAF and we were stationed there in the late 1960s when I was very young and cute. It amused me to learn decades later that 130,000 Brits surrendered to 30,000 Japs on bicycles and with so little resistance. Just wanted to watch his wee face when I handed it to him.
LH: American Terrorist, I think, but done from the perspective of what the effects of endless wars against enemies ill equipped to defend themselves actually has upon not only those societies attacked but also upon professional soldiers who see first-hand the reality behind the jingo and what it does to so many of them.
TPQ: A "must read" you intend getting to before you die?
LH: I Haven’t identified it yet. Something detached from local Irish History of any era. Probably a political one of some sorts from Asia or Latin America. Those places are still very much on my radar. Maybe something about some of the Irish in the Catholic Spanish forces in Latin America. I know several did very well there. Please feel free to recommend.
⏩Larry Hughes is a Globe trekking English teacher