Best short story I've ever read
Anything from ‘The Age of Wire and String’ by Ben Marcus. They’re only a few pages long and they’re more like demented encyclopedia entries. They have titles like ‘The Food Costumes of Montana’ and ‘Intercourse With Resuscitated Wife’.
Book I finished reading but wanted my time back afterwards
'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith. I felt culturally lacking because it was such a reference point, so I read it despite my better judgement. I should have trusted myself. I don’t even dislike books like this, I just don’t care.
Book I wouldn't blush to be seen reading the tube
I’m not much of a blusher. I’d read virtually anything in public if I wanted to. I’d like to slap adults who ostentatiously read the supposedly grown-up editions of Harry Potter books on trains.
Most out of date or photoshopped author photo
Not necessarily out of date or altered, but Nicholas Blincoe always looks (I think unintentionally) both raddled and hilarious in his photos. He could probably do with a bit of the old Photoshop actually. I’m playing with fire now. I’ll never be anthologised in this town again.
CD that's worth paying money for (as opposed to going the rip and burn route)
‘Yanqui UXO’ by Godspeed You Black Emperor, because it’s a magnificent piece of work if you’re into sweeping, slightly portentous guitar music (I am), because their quaint and cryptic anti-corporatism is appealing and because anyone trying to do anything a bit different deserves some royalties.
Best 'film of the book' I've seen
A bit of a guilty pleasure, but it’s probably ‘Fight Club’, directed by David Fincher, from the book by Chuck Palahniuk. Who ever would have thought a film with Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter and Meatloaf in it could even be watchable, let alone any good? I like the film of ‘Trainspotting’ better than the book by Irvine Welsh. I forget his name and can’t be bothered to look it up, but it was directed by the bloke who did ‘The Beach’, which was shite.
Most famous author I've met who acted like a twat
Melvyn Bragg. I can’t remember very much about it, to be honest, except that he was quite annoying, spoke so slowly I could see the ends of his sentences on the horizon and that he never stopped talking about himself. I do recall him saying that his own new book sounded boring. I agreed.
My favourite bookshop
Treasure Chest, in Felixstowe, Suffolk. It’s a second-hand bookshop near where I grew up, it’s still there and still the only decent shop in the whole town. It’s Tardis-like, with a tiny shop front disguising an impossibly huge and labyrinthine collection of books. Stupid name, though.
Celebrity author I'd like to see beaten with a stick, and then never see again
Ben Elton. That does-my-bum-look-big woman from ‘The Fast Show’. Most comedians-turned-novelists, in fact. William Shatner. Alan Titchmarsh. Ethan Hawke. We’re going to need more sticks.
Author I'd like to see presented with all kinds of awards
I’d only like people to get awards if they were proper ones for real excellence or innovation, rather than just marketing tools like the Booker. Anybody young, not educated at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard or wherever, not a journalist, not a celebrity, and who actually gets intelligent work published deserves some kind of award just for existing. People who consistently turn out good books over years or decades and don’t lose it after writing one decent novel should also be rewarded.