Joseph O’Connor: ‘My scepticism about monarchy began at six with a Ladybird book’

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My earliest reference memory
I’d opportunity I’m four, astir five. The twelvemonth I commencement successful school. I’m successful our location adjacent Dún Laoghaire successful Dublin, sitting nether nan room table, and I’m trying, and failing, to publication a book of fairytales by nan Irish writer Sinéad de Valera.

My favourite book increasing up
I’m going to cheat a spot and take a bid – Richmal Crompton’s Just William books – truthful arch and funny and tongue-in-cheek. And exotic. The type of suburban Englishness she mildly skewered was for illustration thing from different planet.

The book that changed maine arsenic a teenager
The New Journalism, an anthology edited by Tom Wolfe and EW Johnson, was published successful 1973. Six years later, connected a travel to London, I bought a transcript successful Collet’s connected Charing Cross Road. To publication Joan Didion, Barbara Goldsmith and Hunter S Thompson astatine that property was a revelation. Also, John Cooper Clarke came into Collet’s arsenic I was paying for nan book. So, somehow, he’s a portion of nan experience.

The writer who changed my mind
A transcript of A Ladybird Book: British Kings and Queens was fixed to maine by nan smiling nun who taught maine erstwhile I was six. I often deliberation it’s wherever my scepticism astir monarchy began.

The book that made maine want to beryllium a writer
Encountering nan first condemnation of JD Salinger’s The Catcher successful nan Rye erstwhile I was 17 was for illustration proceeding nan superb X-Ray Spex for nan first time. “If you really want to perceive astir it, nan first point you’ll astir apt want to cognize is wherever I was born, and what my lousy puerility was like, and really my parents were occupied and each earlier they had me, and each that David Copperfield benignant of crap, but I don’t consciousness for illustration going into it, if you want to cognize nan truth.” It had ne'er occurred to maine that fabrication could beryllium truthful defiant. By nan clip I vanished nan novel, I wanted to beryllium a writer.

The book aliases writer I came backmost to
I hated Ulysses erstwhile I was young, possibly because nan student characteristic successful it, Stephen Dedalus, is truthful unlikable. I tried it again successful my 40s and was blown away. Bits of it are for illustration listening to Brian Eno aliases Laurie Anderson: it isn’t asking to beryllium understood, conscionable experienced.

The book I reread
I person 2 novels that I travel backmost to each mates of years because I loved them truthful overmuch erstwhile I was successful my 20s: Toni Morrison’s Jazz and Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda. Rereading them is simply a visit and a pleasure.

The book I could ne'er publication again
Anything involving a hobbit.

The book I discovered later successful life
Proust’s Swann’s Way, pinch those extraordinarily beautiful agelong sentences. He suffered from terrible allergies and asthma, but his penning is truthful afloat of spaciousness. Prose arsenic breathing.

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The book I americium presently reading
I emotion books astir Rome, wherever my caller My Father’s House is set. Just Passing Through is simply a postulation of nan diaries and photographs of Milton Gendel who lived location for 70 years, documenting fashion, creation and la dolce vita. The photographs are good, but nan penning is knockout. One acquaintance is “like a peep pinch a precocious IQ”.

  • My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor is published by Harvill Secker. To bargain a transcript spell to

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