Connal Parr answers thirteen questions in a Booker's Dozen. 

TPQ: What Are you currently reading?

CP: Richard J. Evans’s Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History. Hobsbawm is one of the few historians whose life is as interesting as the events he’s writing about. I’m also reading Sophie White’s Corpsing and Doireann ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost in the Throat. Both exhilarating and unique. I’m glad I managed to get the two of them together for the Belfast Book Festival this year on 11 June (Book Here).

TPQ: Best and Worst Books You Have Ever Read?

CP: Ernest Hemmingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is immaculate. Worst would be Kevin Meagher’s A United Ireland: How Unification is Inevitable and How it Will Come About. To be clear, I think there should be more books about future constitutional change and the unity debate (Paul Gosling’s book is a good start), but Meagher’s is very poor, falling back on old views on demographics and written by someone who does not understand Ireland, north or south.

TPQ: Most cherished book as a child?

CP: C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair. I wasn’t of the Harry Potter generation and got Lewis instead. Lucky on that.

TPQ: Favourite Childhood author?

CP: Say C. S. Lewis (again) and Tom McCaughren, author of Run Swift, Run Free.

TPQ: First book to really own you?

CP: The book that jolted, shook assumptions about language, and made me think about society was Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. I picked it up randomly one day and had read it before doing it at school. Once your brain enters into the language, there’s nothing like it. It was like figuring out a puzzle, and then it made you think about the big questions and how to negotiate a dangerous world.


TPQ: Favourite male and female author.

CP: Bertolt Brecht and Marie Jones. For their life stories, as well as the work.

TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?

CP: Tough one, but I’ll go with fiction. I read more non-fiction due to work, but there’s nothing like being made to feel by creative writers. That keeps us going.

TPQ: Biography, autobiography or memoir that most impressed you?

CP: John Osborne’s A Better Class of Person (published in 1981) is an extraordinary memoir about class and life in Britain before he makes it and changes British theatre. Evocative and funny. I also found Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom an immensely powerful read, though it was partly ghost-written. Sean O’Casey’s Autobiographies are also unforgettable.

TPQ: Any book or author you point blank refuse to read?

CP: Yes, any author who gets undue hype well beyond their ability, and a rash of journalists in Ireland whose egos could fill the Ritz. Also books promoting conservative politics that ruin our societies.

TPQ: A book to share with somebody so that they would more fully understand you?

CP: Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy.
 

TPQ:
Last book you gave as a present?

CP: The Best Catholics in the World: The Irish, the Church and the End of a Special Relationship by Derek Scally.

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

CP: One of Belfast author Rosemary Jenkinson’s short stories! I can see it now … Paul Mescal could guest star…

TPQ: Select one book you simply have to read before you close the last page on life.

CP: Chinua Achebe’s Home and Exile.

Connal Parr is Senior Lecturer in History at Northumbria University and the author of Inventing the Myth: Political Passions and the Ulster Protestant Imagination.

Booker's Dozen @ Connal Parr

Connal Parr answers thirteen questions in a Booker's Dozen. 

TPQ: What Are you currently reading?

CP: Richard J. Evans’s Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History. Hobsbawm is one of the few historians whose life is as interesting as the events he’s writing about. I’m also reading Sophie White’s Corpsing and Doireann ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost in the Throat. Both exhilarating and unique. I’m glad I managed to get the two of them together for the Belfast Book Festival this year on 11 June (Book Here).

TPQ: Best and Worst Books You Have Ever Read?

CP: Ernest Hemmingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is immaculate. Worst would be Kevin Meagher’s A United Ireland: How Unification is Inevitable and How it Will Come About. To be clear, I think there should be more books about future constitutional change and the unity debate (Paul Gosling’s book is a good start), but Meagher’s is very poor, falling back on old views on demographics and written by someone who does not understand Ireland, north or south.

TPQ: Most cherished book as a child?

CP: C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair. I wasn’t of the Harry Potter generation and got Lewis instead. Lucky on that.

TPQ: Favourite Childhood author?

CP: Say C. S. Lewis (again) and Tom McCaughren, author of Run Swift, Run Free.

TPQ: First book to really own you?

CP: The book that jolted, shook assumptions about language, and made me think about society was Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. I picked it up randomly one day and had read it before doing it at school. Once your brain enters into the language, there’s nothing like it. It was like figuring out a puzzle, and then it made you think about the big questions and how to negotiate a dangerous world.


TPQ: Favourite male and female author.

CP: Bertolt Brecht and Marie Jones. For their life stories, as well as the work.

TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?

CP: Tough one, but I’ll go with fiction. I read more non-fiction due to work, but there’s nothing like being made to feel by creative writers. That keeps us going.

TPQ: Biography, autobiography or memoir that most impressed you?

CP: John Osborne’s A Better Class of Person (published in 1981) is an extraordinary memoir about class and life in Britain before he makes it and changes British theatre. Evocative and funny. I also found Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom an immensely powerful read, though it was partly ghost-written. Sean O’Casey’s Autobiographies are also unforgettable.

TPQ: Any book or author you point blank refuse to read?

CP: Yes, any author who gets undue hype well beyond their ability, and a rash of journalists in Ireland whose egos could fill the Ritz. Also books promoting conservative politics that ruin our societies.

TPQ: A book to share with somebody so that they would more fully understand you?

CP: Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy.
 

TPQ:
Last book you gave as a present?

CP: The Best Catholics in the World: The Irish, the Church and the End of a Special Relationship by Derek Scally.

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

CP: One of Belfast author Rosemary Jenkinson’s short stories! I can see it now … Paul Mescal could guest star…

TPQ: Select one book you simply have to read before you close the last page on life.

CP: Chinua Achebe’s Home and Exile.

Connal Parr is Senior Lecturer in History at Northumbria University and the author of Inventing the Myth: Political Passions and the Ulster Protestant Imagination.

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