Proust Questionnaire 7: Peter Murphy


Peter Murphy is a journalist and writer, whose latest book, Shall We Gather at the River was published by Faber, earlier this year. His first novel John the Revelator, published in 2009, was nominated for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, among others prizes, and he is also a founder member of The Revelator Orchestra. He appears with Paul Lynch this evening at Smock Alley (6pm)

What is your idea of happiness? 

The Stooges’ Funhouse album played loud.

Where would you most like to live? 

The house I’m about to move into, mainly because I’ve been living out of a rucksack for five weeks following my previous house’s thatched roof catching fire.

What is your favourite virtue?

Not chastity anyway.

What are your favourite qualities in a man? 

Wit. Horse-sense.

What are your favourite qualities in a woman? 


What do you most value in your friends?  

The chat.

What is your biggest weakness?

Hoarding books.

What do you enjoy doing most? 

Finding out about stuff.

What is your most marked characteristic?

My partner says my walk. I’m not sure what she means.

What is your idea of misery? 

Working in a fluorescent-lit cube for a guy who says things like ‘ahead of the curve’.

If not yourself, who would you like to be? 

My dog Judy.

What is your favourite colour and flower? 

Burgundy. Sunflower.

What is your favourite bird?


Who are your favourite writers? 

Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stephenson, Flannery O’Connor, Lester Bangs, Flann O’Brien, Nick Tosches, William Shakespeare, Herman Melville, Greil Marcus, JG Ballard, Ray Bradbury, Hunter S Thompson, Bob Dylan.

Who are your favourite poets? 

William Blake, Federico Garcia Lorca, Arthur Rimbaud, Dylan Thomas

Who are your favourite artists? 

Frances Bacon, Marc Chagall, Jackson Pollock, Joe Cole, Carlos Ezquerra.

Who are your favourite musicians? 

Robert Johnson, Arvo Part, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, The Doors, Hank Williams, Charles Mingus, Motorhead, The Gun Club, Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in fiction? 

Riddley Walker, Ide Richilieu from The Man Who Fell In Love With the Moon by Tom Spanbauer, Doc Cochran from Deadwood, Compo from Last of the Summer Wine.

Who are the heroes and heroines in your life? 

My partner Paula, my brother John, my sister Imelda, my pal Sean, my fairy godmother Marianne and my daughters Meg, Hannah and Grace.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in history?

Ned Kelly, Grace O’Malley

What is your favourite food and drink? 


What are your favourite names?

Estrella. Esther. Esmarelda. Zelda. Enoch.

What do you most dislike? 

The kind of people who say ‘going forward’.

Which historical figures do you most dislike? 

All the fascist bastards.

What event in history do you most admire?

The building of the pyramids.

What social movement do you most admire?

Burlesque artists.

What natural gift would you most like to possess? 

The ability to play ‘Highway to Hell’ on electric guitar.

How would you like to die? 

After, rather than before, the completion of a book.

What is your present state of mind?

All over the shop.

What is your biggest pet peeve? 

Rip-off merchants. The way the game is rigged so’s we all have to have a bank account.

Which fault in others do you most easily tolerate? 

Those I don’t possess.

Which fault in yourself do you most easily tolerate? 


What is your motto?

“Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good.” – Marcus Aurelius