Brought to Book: Gerald Dawe on the joy of getting a book in place and the anxiety after

`Use it or lose it'

Gerald Dawe: ‘Do it because you want to and not for any other reason, and stick at it no matter what.’  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Gerald Dawe: ‘Do it because you want to and not for any other reason, and stick at it no matter what.’ Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 11:30

What was the first book to make an impression on you? Sons and Lovers by D H Lawrence.

What was your favourite book as a child? Treasure Island bought for me by my Uncle Terence when I was eight years old.

And what is your favourite book or books now? Anything by John Updike and Richard Ford. Camus’s Algerian Notebooks, Per Petterson and I’m re-reading Anna Akhmatova’s poems, both in translation.

What is your favourite quotation? Use it or lose it.

Who is your favourite fictional character? Gavin Burke in Brian Moore’s Emperor of Ice Cream. A role model!

Who is the most underrated Irish author? Elizabeth Bowen.

Which do you prefer: ebooks or the traditional print version? Book as book, though I read on kindle, sporadically.

What is the most beautiful book you own? If I’m allowed two: a signed first edition of Robert Lowell’s Lord Weary’s Castle and the Macmillan hardback edition of Collected Poems of W B Yeats my mother gave to me for my 18th birthday.

Where and how do you write? At home, at the top of the house; other times on the sofa in the livingroom when I’m on my own in the house.

What book changed the way you think about fiction? William Faulkner, Light in August.

What is the most research you have done for a book? Six years.

What book influenced you the most? Yeats’s Collected Poems.

What book would you give to a friend’s child on their 18th birthday? The Outsider by Camus.

What book do you wish you had read when you were young? I can’t think of “one”.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author? Do it because you want to and not for any other reason, and stick at it no matter what.

What weight do you give reviews? Depends who it is; but generally they’re important soundings that let you know if what you planned to put in place is even halfway understood.

Where do you see the publishing industry going? More consumer fiction and more instantaneous reputations; volume of “product” is hectic.

What writing trends have struck you lately? Short fiction; blasting poems; “issues” on stage.

What lessons have you learned about life from reading? Take time, let the reality grow.

What has being a writer taught you? The joy of getting a book in place and the anxiety after.

Which writers, living or dead, would you invite to your dream dinner party? Samuel Johnson, JG Farrell, Elizabeth Bishop, would be good for starters.

What is the funniest scene you’ve read? The tragi-comic conversation that closes John McGahern’s wonderful short story, High Ground.

What is your favourite word? “Definitely”.

If you were to write a historical novel, which event or figure would be your subject? I couldn’t write fiction, historical or otherwise, even if I was paid. But I have written poems with historical connections from Carlyle’s visiting this country during the Famine; Edward Carson saying farewell to Belfast in 1912. I think I’d like to write about Napoleon’s exile on Elba; the grand illusion.

Gerald Dawe will be giving a talk on “Pike, hawks and foxes – thoughts on first reading Ted Hughes” on Saturday at the Ted Hughes Weekend, in Connemara, which runs from July 11-13th, tedhughesweekend.com

Gerald Dawe has published seven poetry collections with The Gallery Press, most recently, "Selected Poems", as well as several collections of literary reviews and essays including the forthcoming "The Stoic Man: Poetry Memoirs" (Lagan). He is currently completing a new volume of poetry and a study of modern Irish writing, war and conflict. He is professor of English at Trinity College Dublin.

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