Writers are readers.
Not when they are writing, perhaps, but most of the time, you will find them reading. Thinking about reading. And writing. Thinking about what to read next. Talking to friends about the latest books, the best books, the books to avoid like the–oh, do we say “plague” anymore? Maybe not. Ok.
And then they are talking about what THEY are reading.
And here is a lovely example of that: Gabriel Byrne talking about books he has read, books that matter to him, books that he will never read again, books that he is reading right this very moment.
The Guardian: The Books of My Life: Gabriel Byrne : some excerpts
The book that made me want to be a writer
Quite late as a reader I discovered Raymond Carver. I resolved that, if I ever wrote anything, I’d be guided by the simplicity of his work.
The book or author I came back to
I went back to The Great Gatsby after having lived in America for some years, and I finally got it. Naively, when I read it as a teenager in Dublin I couldn’t reconcile the cynical reality of Fitzgerald’s American dream with the mythologies I’d absorbed from films. His portrait of wealth and self-invention meant little until I spent a holiday in the Hamptons on the south fork of Long Island. And then suddenly there they all were: the modern-day Jay, Nick, Daisy and Tom in summer linens on manicured lawns, as if no other world had ever existed but theirs.
The book I reread
Hamlet, two or three times a year at least. We read the play first at secondary school. Our teacher brought in recordings of various actors – Gielgud, Olivier, Burton – and we discussed how each interpretation brought a different perspective to the drama. Then he had us record it. It was beyond exciting to listen back to ourselves owning the play and bringing those words to life from the page. Although I’ve never played Hamlet, in many ways I am him. As we all are, I think, because, like Joyce with Leopold Bloom, Shakespeare created a timeless and universal everyman, articulating our inner voice: conflicted, human and yearning to know truth.
Read the entire article. It is not very long and there are some surprises. The Guardian is a wonderful newspaper and they make all of their stuff available for free. You can always send them a donation, though, if you feel inclined to do so. Or even subscribe!
What Mr. Byrne does not mention in this lovely homage to books and reading is how he is getting along with writing. As in: his new novel. But since he has just recently published his latest memoir, I suppose we must give him some time: time to create an entire world, people it with characters of his own imagination, and then make it all into a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Yes?!
Not an easy job. Thankfully, we have Mr. Byrne who can do it, while also saving the world in his latest television series and making fast cars go ***z o o m*** in his latest film. Next, he’ll take up painting, this man of all trades! Ok. Maybe not.
What are YOU reading now that Fall has fallen or Spring has sprung where you are? Do tell, please! heart
Note: The two images of Gabriel reading are from the documentary Gabriel Byrne: Stories From Home.