Best short story I’ve ever read
Two Gentle People by Graham Greene. A beautiful, wistful love affair lasting no longer than an afternoon and evening. It opens with the wringing of a pigeon’s neck, and closes with the sedation of a bitter wife.
Book I finished reading but wanted my time back afterwards
Sebastian Faulks, On Green Dolphin Street. What was the point of that book then?
Book I wouldn’t blush to be seen reading on the tube
Tolstoy’s Resurrection. At a recent Big Read event I felt embarrassed to champion War and Peace. Shamefacedly I offer this up as an act of contrition. Tolstoy at his best.
Best 'film of the book' I've seen
The Sheltering Sky directed by Bertolucci based on the book of the same name by Paul Bowles. As it can do the visual, it’s good when a film makes the most of it. The photography is gorgeous.
Book most deserving of a plug
Collection of poems by Nigel Pickard published by the excellent Shoestring Press
. Beautiful, finely honed poems reminiscent of William Carlos Williams.
Most embarrassing author photo
The photographer taking my photo for The Last Girl chose a particularly bitter November day. The wind was biting and as the shoot went on (and on) I shrank further and further inside my coat. My nose was running and my eyes red and watery. The one Sceptre chose to use was the last he took that bleak afternoon. See below.
Most famous author I've met who acted like an idiot
Usually I’m too drunk to notice other people being idiots at literary events. I was cheered to see Melvin Bragg left standing disconsolately in the centre of a crowded party given by Sceptre, with nobody to speak to. The loveliest famous author I’ve met is Alan Sillitoe who is modest and very friendly.
My favourite bookshop
Asking an author to choose their favourite bookshop is like asking a six year old which is their favourite sweetshop. What does it matter so long as they’re well stocked? Having said that Jane Streeter who runs The Bookcase in Lowdham, Nottingham, is fantastic. She co-runs a great literary and film festival.
Author I’d like to see presented with all kinds of awards
Julie Myerson (latest offering Something Might Happen) is finally getting some of the recognition she deserves. Previous novels merit going back to, particularly Sleepwalking.
Author I’d like to see beaten with a stick, then never again
Well, there’s a certain authoress I wouldn’t mind beating me, but we had probably better not go there…