The best short story I've ever read:
What Happened To Auguste Clarot? by Larry Eisenberg. Shortly after the publication of this story in 1967 an incredible new dawn for modern fiction didn’t happen.
Book I finished reading but wanted my time back afterwards:
The Information by Martin Amis. I got about halfway through and my life imploded. I have held Amis personally responsible ever since.
Book I would blush to be seen reading in public:
I never read “books”, but I do suffer from a recurring dream: I am belted into my seat on a transatlantic long haul flight with only the complete works of Terry Pratchett at hand. To my left, Bill Bryson is making wry observations about air travel. To my right, Julian Barnes is talking about the creative process of writing his latest novel. It’s a nightmarish scenario.
Best film of the book:
Charlie and Donald Kaufman’s Adaptation of Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief. Well... why can’t there be a movie about flowers?
Books that should be on the national curriculum:
Either American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis or Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss. Both would prove hugely instructive for a young person just setting out in life.
Most out of date, misleading and just plain wrong author photo:
Gwendoline Riley. In reality “Gwendoline” (made-up name) is a 47 year old former scrum half from High Wickham. The press shots of a youthful waif-like female were used for promotional purposes.
A writer I’ve met who name-dropped like an idiot:
Film guru Colin McCabe. Nice chap with a big booming voice who mentioned “Jean-Luc” rather a lot: “Jean-Luc is a highly complex human being...”; “Jean-Luc loves the company of small children...”; “Jean-Luc is very partial to a sweet sherry in the afternoon...” and so on. From this I deduced that: a) Colin knew Jean-Luc Godard, and b) Colin knew Jean-Luc Godard. McCabe did, however, produce the best opening gambit I have ever witnessed, live, in front of a small audience. Namely: “When Hanif Kureishi asked me to appear in the film Sammy and Rosie Get Laid... as myself...”
Which, as opening gambits go, I fear may never be beaten.
My favourite book shop:
For the horizontal acquisition of second hand obscurities without leaving the house: www.abebooks.co.uk.
Meanwhile, unhappily back in real life, I recommend the Oxfam Bookshop, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester. Whether you are searching for a bestseller by Denton Welch, or the latest blockbuster by Leonora Carrington, you’ll find it all here. At low low prices.
Authors I’d like to see get the recognition they deserve:
David Mitchell and Will Self, for outstanding service to literary smugness. I’d like to give them that “recognition” myself. Personally. In an empty field. Corporal punishment for authors. It could catch on.
Authors I’d most like to share a flat with in an interesting ménage-a-trois arrangement:
Dorothy Parker and Joe Orton. Dorothy would be waspish and have a knack for creating intricate vol-aux-vents out of minimal ingredients. Joe would be waspish and organize famously bohemian cocktail parties for literary deviants. I imagine we’d probably just sit around drinking Vermouth, being waspish, eating intricate vol-aux-vents, making Forties-style wisecracks all day. I think we’d get along.