Stuff I Like
The North sea
Wan ton soup
My friends. Most of the time.
The southern hemisphere in winter
A most excellent Spanish Liquor called Pacharan. It produces a marvellous allergic high, a bit like laughing gas.
A large number of member of the next generation, who fill my heart with hope.
Ruins. That Ozymandias feeling is the biggest turn-on
Horoscopes (yeah, yeah, I know)
Kurt Vonnegut, especially The Sirens of Titan, Player Piano, Breakfast of Champions. Guy knew all about final chapters.
Barbara Vine, psychological novel pseudonym of crime writer Ruth Rendell. If anyone, she is the formative influence on Alex's ambitions.
Stephen King, especially Misery, The Shining, Pet Semetary
George Eliot, especially Adam Bede, Felix Holt
Charles Dickens: Hard Times was written after he made a trip in a time machine and ended up in the 1980s
John Donne: eroticism and rampant depression all in one package. What's not to like?
CS Lewis's Narnia books. No amount of "it's Catholic apologia" arguments will sway me.
Elizabeth Taylor: Angel made me bust a gut
Ford Madox Ford: The Good Soldier begins "this is the saddest story ever told". And it is.
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw. If I ever write something as frightening as this, I will die proud
Daphne du Maurier: well, you have to, don't you? She is the mother of us all.
John Wyndham: I read all of these, over and over, as a teenager, and they still stand the test. Mad imagination, wonderfully spare writing and a great affection for the human soul.
Jeff Lindsay: clever, clever, clever. The thing that makes Dexter so very brilliant is the fact that he can make you bust a gut laughing.
Christopher Brookmyre: who says you can't be funny in crime novels?
Margaret Kennedy: OK, so she's my granny, but The Constant Nymph is a blinder and The Feast one of the cleverest bits of metaphor-working ever
Dorothy Parker: people who don't write always lament that she "didn't have the application" to write a novel. That's because they don't write. The great American short story writer.
The other great short story writers, btw, are Saki, MR James and PG Wodehouse.
Ideologies. Pah. And yes, that includes you, hardline atheists.
Academic snobbery (the enemy of invention)
The strange human urge to overcomplicate
The British libel laws
People who don't understand that flippancy is an art form
Loo rolls hanging with the tongue hanging on the wall side. I only realised recently that this is something of a obsessive-compulsive thing, when I caught myself in the act of turning one round in someone else's house, at a party. Oops.
Q: Why can't men just fuck off and die?
A: They're men. They can't multi-task