TPQ: What are you currently reading?
GC 🕮 Midnight At Chernobyl which was a gift from my daughter.
TPQ: Best and worst books you have ever read?
GC 🕮 Best – David Beresford’s Ten Men Dead. I first read that at 13 and was amazed that an English journalist could show such impartiality and even admiration when he described the life of Francis Hughes. Worst – Some Tom Clancy shite about Al Qaeda hooking up with the Mexican cartels to smuggle heroin and operatives into America. I read the Jack Ryan canon in my youth and loved the technical know how and complexity but this was pure ‘phone it in drivel’.
TPQ: Book most cherished as a child?
GC 🕮 I started reading Dan Breen’s My Fight For Irish Freedom when I was 7 or 8. When I came to a word I couldn’t make out I would guess it and one day my granny got me to read from the book and corrected me when I said ‘Royal Irish Constabrits’. I’ve read it many times since. When I was 15 or 16 I went exploring in the derelict house to my cousin's. In the kitchen press I found a copy of the book signed by Vol Dan McAnallen. I gave it to a local contemporary of Dan’s who was amazed as he said Dan was seriously inspired by it and would quote from it regularly. I saved it from mouldering away but regret that I didn’t give it to Dan’s brother whom I didn’t really know at the time.
TPQ: Favourite Childhood author?
GC 🕮 Walter Mackin. We had the same teacher for English from 1st year to GCSE and we never did any Shakespeare. We did The Silent People as our main English literature book as well as Graham Greene’s The Power And The Glory and for plays we did Playboy Of The Western World 📖 The Plough And The Stars and Juno And The Paycock. Our teacher was a sound man who I didn’t appreciate at the time as I sneered at his abhorrence of violence. But he still leant me all his Walter Mackin books and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
TPQ: First book to really own you?
GC 🕮 Ten Men Dead. I read One Day In My Life at 10 or 11 and other books that were in the house like The RUC Black And Blue Book, co-written by my headmaster Denis Faul. I had an elderly grandaunt who was partially sighted, had never married and retired home from abroad. She took me on a Rhine cruise from Holland to Germany and back as a guide cub. It was organised by Downtown Radio and there were some looks when 13 year old me appeared with the group in the airport with my just-bought copy of the book. The first few days on the boat were non-stop sailing through flat; featureless terrain and the people were almost all retirees. Our every meal was at the same table with 3 female, Harland & Wolfe retirees. I became utterly absorbed in the book and had it finished by the time we reached the more topographically-appealing German mountains.
TPQ: Favourite male and female author?
GC 🕮 Male author – The sadly-missed Terry Pratchett. I discovered him in my teens and wish I was reading him still. A sublimely-talented commentator on humanity. Female author – Morgan Lewellyn; Irish-American writer of historical Irish fiction.
TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?
GC 🕮 I like historical material so the line is blurred. The accepted logic is the Celts wrote nothing down. This is based on the ‘facts’ of Roman-derived history. Archaeology has proven and reason suggests otherwise. A society with social values not replicated until the 20th century had to have had millennia of reasoning and philosophy. No wonder their literary legacy was so vigorously purged.
TPQ: Any author or book you point blank refuse to read?
GC 🕮 Have to admit I fuckin loved Cage 11 as a kid but tried to read some of the latter canon a decade ago or so. Sin é agus sin mar a fuck no Gerry.
TPQ: Last book you gave as a present?
GC 🕮 Can't recall ever buying a book as a gift for someone but have lent many books which essentially became presents.
TPQ: Biography, autobiography or memoir that most impressed you?
GC 🕮 Can’t remember the title but it was a biography of Claus Von Stauffenberg I read in my late teens.
TPQ: A book to share with somebody so that they would more fully understand you?
GC 🕮 The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.
TPQ: Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?
GC 🕮 Anything from the CJ Sansom ‘Shardlake’ series. Serious historical fiction.
TPQ: The just must - select one book you simply have to read before you close the last page on life.
GC 🕮 How The People Of Ireland Became United And Prospered.