Una Mullally

Society, life and culture on the edge

PopLives #61: Sinead Gleeson

Every week this Q&A finds out what interesting people in music, film, fashion, theatre, literature, performance, tech stuff, and whatever else are consuming.

Mon, Jan 6, 2014, 11:58


Sinead Gleeson is a journalist and broadcaster and one half of The Anti Room. She presents The Book Show on RTE Radio One, and this week with Anna Carey will host The Anti Room at First Fortnight, a talk on Women and Mental Health in Popular Culture, with myself, Sorcha Kenny, Dil Wickremasinghe and more.

What are you reading?
Nearly always something for work! So at the moment, Christos Tsiolkas’ new novel Barracuda about a young swimmer who wants to swim for Australia in the Olympics. Danny – the main character – also happens to be working class and gay, so Tsiolkas has room to examine some interesting themes.

Last film you saw and your verdict?
The hugely over-rated American Hustle. The costuming is excellent, but there isn’t a sniff of a plot, and it all gets too meta when Robert de Niro shows up, as Christian Bale spends the entire film doing a vague De Niro impression.

Last gig/concert you went to and your verdict?
Ghost Maps the new solo project from Jeff Martin, in the Workman’s Club last month. DOI: He’s a pal, but is a talented songwriter and has tried to do something completely different to his previous work on his new album.

Last stage production you saw and your verdict?
Women or Nothing by Ethan Coen in New York. It was like bad Woody Allen that even Woody Allen would have rejected. Although I’m optimistic about the Coen’s new film, Inside Llewyn Davis.

Last gallery / museum / exhibition you visited and your verdict?
The Leonora Carrington exhibition at IMMA was a revelation. I knew of her as a writer, but didn’t know her art at all. It’s wonderfully surreal, gothic and intense. It runs until January 26th and is well worth seeing.

You have a golden ticket to Easons, what magazine is first on your list?
Women’s magazines that do things a bit differently like The Gentlewoman or Bitch magazine. Also, Eason’s sell Granta’s quarterly writing magazine, which is an excellent way to find new writing and new voices.

What are your most clicked bookmarks?
There is a lot of good writing – smart journalism and essays – online at the moment. I tend to read a lot of American sites like The Rumpus, Slate, The Atlantic, The New York Times. Also, Lettersofnote.com for random letters from history.

Do you have a favourite podcast or radio programme apart from your own?
In radio terms, I do a lot of listening back, so there’s BBC Woman’s Hour, Night Waves on BBC 4, lots of NPR. Slate’s Culture Gabfest is great; I love the random storytelling on The Moth and I cannot miss The New Yorker Fiction podcast, where one writer who has had a short story featured in the magazine, picks another writer from the archives. It has often introduced me to writers I’d have otherwise missed.

When you fall into a YouTube hole what’s the general subject matter of the videos you’re watching?
I watch a lot of music stuff online, from crappy videos or Top of the Pops appearances by bands I liked in my youth, to new music I want to catch up on. Also, I sometimes watch stuff with my children, which is a bit of a necessity as they keep asking me randomly if famous musicians (Elvis, Vampire Weekend, David Bowie, Kraftwerk) are dead.

What song should we listen to right now?
I’ve been constantly listening to the new Gloaming album (out on Jan 24th) and it’s hard to pick one song, but ‘Necklace of Wrens’ is stunning. Such an extraordinary collection of musicians, and Iarla O’Lionaird has a voice that always stops me in my tracks.

Which boxset/TV series do you have on the go at the moment?
Nashville – think autotuned Glee with Country & Western – is my current guilty pleasure. It’s frequently twee, but has great characters (and two lead characters are women, played brilliantly by Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere). I’m looking forward to the return of House of Cards next month, and I’m a vintage boxset binge of Deadwood, which is excellent. Like everyone else, I’m watching Sherlock, which has jumped an entire school of sharks.

Which app do you use the most?
IMDB. I seem to be unable to watch a TV show or film without looking up half the cast to see what they’re doing now. It’s an affliction.

Do you play video games or mobile platform games, and if so, what’s your favourite at the moment?
I have small children, and get roped into playing Lego Batman games, but I’m pretty rubbish. I think they only ask me to play so they can trounce me.

What is your favourite club night of all time?
Too many! There used to be a brilliant club in the Kitchen on Thursday nights, and I saw people like Slam, Jedi Knights and David Holmes. Strictly Handbag at Ri-Ra in the 90s (where I once spent an hour talking to Morrissey outside the toilets) was always fun. And a Thomas the Skank Engine night always ended with everyone standing on the seats dancing to Daft Punk.

If you could transport one international cultural outlet to your home town, what would it be and why?
I think it would have to be Tate Modern. Apart from those old chimneys, I think the Turbine Hall is one of the most impressive spaces in the world. Think of the parties you could have there…

And finally, if you check out one book this month make it…
Later this month, Willy Vlautin of the band Richmond Fontaine publishes his fourth novel, The Free. His previous book, Lean on Pete, was shortlisted for the IMPAC prize and is a road trip, coming of age, Huck Finn style story about a boy and his friendship with a horse. I was so impressed by it, so I’m looking forward to his new one.

Previously on PopLives: Olwen Fouéré, Le GalaxieCian O’BrienCian Ó CiobhainKatie HollyElaine MaiAisling FarinellaBrendan CantyMelanie MorrisTaylor MacTemper-Mental MissElayenousFez Fa’ananaChris JudgeXnthonyDavid MullaneJo ManganDerek O’ConnorBeardymanLynnette MoranRob DelaneyJulie Chance,  Conor O’BrienNial ConlanWallis BirdAdrian CrowleyTegan QuinEllie MacnamaraSteve RyanMumblin Deaf RoRick O’SheaGrace DyasMark O’HalloranAmy ConroyLouise McSharryMaeve HigginsRay YeatesNialler9Jeanie FinlayKevin BarryBrigie De CourcyJohn ScottWillie WhiteNiall MuckianPhil BoyleAngela DorganRoise GoanJoshua GordonMick MinogueEilis BoyleAnnie MacBen FrowMichael McDermottSinead O’Connor,  Shane LanganKathy ScottEoghan KidneyMichael Roe, and Phillip McMahon.