HOW PROUST CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE: BOOKS I LIKE AND WHICH HAVE INFLUENCED MY WRITING
At university, I read all the classics; Thomas Mann, Dostoyesky, Joyce, etc, etc. The problem was, I wasn’t doing English Literature! It was a process of self-education (and enjoyment, I finished The Magic Mountain and the Brothers Karamazov in tears) and whilst it didn’t help me to get a good degree and subsequent career, it gave me a love of books and writing. I feel like I’m now where I belong. The following is a list of the writers who I like and have influenced my writing.
Crime & Thriller Writers: Richard Stark (Point Blank), Ted Lewis (Get Carter), Elmore Leonard, Michael Connelly, Christopher Brookmyre, Scandinavian noir, Ann Cleeves, Peter Robinson, Martin Edwards, Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett, Patricia Highsmith, Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs), Cormac McCarthy.
Mittelmark & Newman How Not To Write A Novil You’re having a good laugh at the ridiculous mistakes these chumps are making. You turn the page and…’Shit! I do that!’
Alain De Botton How Proust Can Change Your Life He can, honestly! Described as ‘a self-help manual for the intelligent person’.
James Frazer The Golden Bough Magic, totems, taboos…
Joseph Conrad All his novels but I was particularly intrigued by a little-known short story The Secret Sharer.
Fyodor Dostoyesky Everything but I found The Double and The Eternal Husband particularly fascinating.
Herman Melville Billy Budd and Bartleby Surprisingly modern.
Saul Bellow The Victim, Dangling Man & Herzog Now what was Elmore Leonard’s first rule of writing? That’s it. Never open a book with weather. An exception is when it’s brief and to the point, as in ‘On some nights New York is as hot as Bangkock.’
Norman Mailer I liked his novels but preferred the essays and journalism.
Graham Greene The Third Man – and the film.
William Golding Lord of the Flies – again, loved the film too.
Daniel Defoe Robinson Crusoe It’s not really about a man marooned on a desert island is it?
Neil Ansell Deep Country Five years alone in a cottage in the Welsh hills. Great for bird-watchers.
Flannery O’Connor Wise Blood Weird or what! But wonderful too.
Jim Perrin The Villain (Biography of Don Whillans) & Mirrors in the Cliffs especially John Long’s essay The Only Blasphemy.
M. John Harrison Climbers True to life and moving.
Dexter Petley White Lies & Little Nineveh A writer’s writer.
Eric Fromm To Have or to Be & The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. Little old ageing hippy me.
James Jones The Thin Red Line Gets down to the horrifying reality of war. The recent film was good too.
Iris Murdoch The Sea The Sea Love, obsession and the passage of time…
Ernest Hemingway The Sun Also Rises & Death in the Afternoon There are only three true sports…
Doris Lessing Especially The Grass is Singing.
George Orwell Essays I re-read these when I’m feeling down.
Stephen Hawking A Brief History of Time I’m not a scientist but I read this for pleasure in the bath. Or when someone’s robbed the latest Readers’ Wives. Only joking.