My Literary Top 10 by Monique Roffey
Best short story I've ever read: Feathers by Raymond Carver
A couple go to dinner with another couple who have an ugly baby and a peacock, to discover they are happier/nicer people—I
remember that feeling of envy as a child when going to another person's
Book I finished reading but wanted my time back afterwards
The Old Men At The Zoo (or something like that), by AN Wilson, just
turgid, awful, a 'novel of ideas'.
Book I wouldn't blush to be seen reading the tube
The Battle for Dole Acre by Ian Marchant.
Best 'film of the book' I've seen
The House of Spirits based on the book of the same name, by Isabelle Allende.
Best contemporary novel I have read in the last year or so:
Atomised by Michel Houllebecq. Tender, solid writing, a proper book. No Brit could write anything so cool about sex.
Most out of date or photoshopped author photo
I run an Arvon Centre and know that many of our most loved, talented and best known male poets could update their publicity photos pronto (John Burnside, Paul Farley to name just one or two). John, now in his 50s, has a brooding photo of his 30-something self staring out a window on all his books (The Dumb House etc), and Paul's very sexy photo of him with floppy long dark hair could get dumped – while Paul is lovely and attractive, he has short ginger hair, and is completely different in real life (a little tubbier than his photo suggests). Paul won the Whitbread Prize this year for his latest collection, The Ice Age (Picador).
Most famous author I've met who acted like an idiot
I saw Martin Amis having his hair blow-dried at Michael-John in Albermarle Street once.
My favourite bookshop
Quinto, Charing Cross Road, for its maze of corridors, great books, lousy, feckless, but clever staff.
Author I'd like to see presented with all kinds of awards
Ian Marchant for Parallel Lines� (Bloomsbury, July 2003) — a book about our failed love affair with Britain's railways. Someone who combines eclectic, thoughtful and personal prose with lots of history and jokes.
[Celebrity] author I'd like to see beaten with a stick, then never again
V.S. Naipaul (The House of Mr Biswas� etc). An important writer from the country where I was born; but a pig of a man, a national disgrace. I hope we never meet. As another Trinidadian writer said to me, 'Some writers save the best of themselves for their work only.' This seems to apply to Naipaul. I could fight him physically.