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An interview with Con Houlihan
Hot Press spoke to with the late, great sportswriter in 1984...
Declan Lynch, 13 Dec 1984
A common perception of you is that "Houlihan is a bit of a poet"."Ah, a bit of a poet, yeah, it's nice to hear it. The man on the bus. A good man. I'd prefer that to approval by the literary set. In Dublin, and London, publishers have a little circle to themselves. Inside track. Publishers, critics, writers, so-called gurus - if you're not part of that little inside track, you'll be cold-shouldered for an awful long time. You could be great, but they'll push you out. Oh, dear, dear, dear. There are people who ar good poets, good writers, good journalists. They'll come through, they'll get by, they'll survive."
Who are your favourite authors?
"My heroes could be Sherwood Anderson. Flaubert, oh yeah. Checkov. O Christ, Jesus, yeah. Thomas Hardy. They're my heroes. Dan Corkery. Patrick Kavanagh, oh yeah. Scott Fitzgerald is a great man. Up There. Magic man. "The Great Gatsby" is a book that will last millions of years. It's a poem. It captures a period of history forever. I can quote the last few pages. It's poetry. Sheer magic. Zola. George Simonon writes rubbish to make a living. Okay. Sometimes he writes for his own pleasure. Three novels are classics. He can come into a town in Normandy, say, and in ten sentences, you're there. He's such a great journalist."
Do you think journalism can be literature?
"Of course! Of course! Simonon is up there. Oh, dear Jesus, that fellow is magic. He wrote about Paris. You'd see Paris, you'd hear Paris, you'd smell Paris. I couldn't do it. He's better than Joyce. Ulysses is a huge chronological encyclopaedia. Simonon describes Montparnasse, and oh, Jesus Christ you're there. Joyce hadn't got it. No way! He hadn't it. There isn't one paragraph that captures it!"
Do you like Paris?
"I love the respect they have for old people. Go into a café or a pub, and I'll guarantee you, if you're an old person, you're a hero. One day in Paris I saw an old woman very heavily built, falling down some steps. In America they'd walk by. There, Jesus Christ Almighty, no way. to me, it's fucking magic."