John Conroy will talk about "The Making of a Torturer'' at USF St. Petersburg on Monday (see Book Talk, Page 8L). As an investigative reporter with the Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly, Conroy uncovered the systematic abuse of prisoners by members of Chicago's police department dating back to the 1970s and '80s. He is the author of Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture and Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life. His reports on criminal justice issues can be heard on Chicago Public Radio.
What is on your nightstand?
Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst, Columbinus , written by P.J. Paparelli and Stephen Karam, which is a play, and Julius Caesar by Shakespeare.
Why Julius Caesar?
I'm reading it because my teenage son needs to read it for school, and I want to make sure he does. It has the original play on one page and the other side of the page has notes to help the reader along in modern language.
Are you reading Columbinus for work? It doesn't sound like pleasure reading.
I'm reading it because I'm writing a play with the backdrop of the prison scandal. My play will be fiction, and although Columbinus is more documentary, it does have a fictional structure to it. I read Furst for pleasure. My daughter gave me Spies of Warsaw for Christmas, and I'm just starting it. He's a terrific writer with such attention to detail. He captures everyday life so perfectly — the rationing, the gasoline and how that would influence the spies' operation.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer