Best short story I’ve ever read:
That’s too hard. I have a lot of bests. Today though I will choose, in honour of the great Grace Paley, who died in August, her short story ‘A Conversation with my Father’, a perfect re-enactment of dialogue as life and
story as live elasticity.
Book that should be on the national curriculum:
Jackie Kay’s Trumpet, or Darling, her selected poems.
Best film of the book I’ve seen:
Housekeeping, by Bill Forsythe. It is so close to the book that it’s near spooky. Best film of the short story: Dubliners by John Huston.
Best near-unknown song by Dusty Springfield:
I’ll Love You for a While. Gorgeous B-side minimalist-sounding pop song on which her voice does both its wonderful sad spin and its joyful who-gives-a-fuck kick.
My favourite opening line of a novel:
“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” First line of Plath’s The Bell Jar, a novel whose political sharpness and fictional adeptness is so often reduced or misunderstood to accomodate Plath’s own fate.
My favourite novel that no one else seems to have heard of:
Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles. I don’t understand why Bowles’s writing isn’t better known. She’s brilliant.
The book I’d most like to reread, if I could find it again:
Most things are now findable. This is one very fine thing about the internet. But I’d like to be able to buy Harold Sonny Ladoo’s rare second novel, Yesterdays, without having to spend a fortune, and otherwise it looks like I’ll have to go to Canada and read it in a library there.
My favourite bookshop:
Topping’s in Ely.
Author I’d like to nominate for the Nobel Prize for literature:
Margaret Atwood. Javier Marias.
Deceased author I’d most like to watch crossing a room, just to see how she moves: