Sunday, April 24, 2005


Now, I know I've been seriously remiss here, but I hope this will satisfy both Chickyog and also Yorkshiresoul, who have both seen fit to demand that I answer five questions about books.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Well, I was tempted to say John Locke's Second Treatise of Government, but that is far too pompous and over close to the Ranter's stereotype. Or alternatively something like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which would have been purposelessly provocative. I'm going for Shakespeare, and in particular Richard II - a fantastic, subtle lesson about politics, power and integrity, and not a bad thriller as well, even if the edition we had at school footnoted Act V as follows: "The badness of some passages has led certain scholars to suggest this was added by some other author".

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?


The last book you bought is: Hunter Thompson, Kingdom of Fear. His last book and possibly worst, a shaggy and disjointed ramble of a memoir that now reads like a suicide note.

The last book you read: Bob Dylan's memoir, Chronicles. I enjoyed it less that I thought I might - it felt strangely like something a gifted trickster might write and pass off as Dylan's work. Which itself is slightly Dylanish..

Five books you would take to a desert island.

Ernest Hemingway, The First Forty-Nine Stories. Economic, tense, and humming with wonder at the world. Unlike his novels, in which his bullshit filter failed about 1941, the short stuff always remained as clear as metal.

J.G. Ballard, Complete Short Stories. Shorts again! This bricklike tome races through an unique world of ideas from 1962 to the present. Ballard's novels, again, although they can be brilliant, can also drag - the ever-present danger of the novel of ideas is that there isn't enough plot to propel the thing along. (A bit like the difference between a hobby website and a blog.) I can't imagine taking The Day of Creation to a desert island, for example, and anyway it's too weird to reread. I can't see why I'd want to read Crash on a desert island, or any of the other Ballardian hard stuff - it's entirely part of a crowded world...

But I will also take The Kindness of Women, the other half of his semiautobiography and ten times better than Empire of the Sun, which is very much the Ballard that exam boards like. Presumably the annual school sales keep him in Scotch.

I think I'll want science, so I'm going to cheat and ask for the complete works of Richard Feynman.

And finally, another cheat - Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour Trilogy, about the struggle for integrity, the effort of being a decent person, and also extremely funny. Oh yeah, and Penguins used to publish it as one volume.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Charlie, because he's a real live writer.

Laura Rozen, out of curiousity.

Georg of Ostracised from Österreich, because this has to break out of the Anglosphere.

Soizick says:

1: Dylan Thomas; Portrait of the Artist as a young Dog
2: No
3: Sigmund Freud; L'homme Moise et la religion monothéiste
4: Sigmund Freud; The joke and its relation to the Ucs
5: J.Stiglitz; The roaring nineties
6: F. Kafka; The Castle
F.Kafka: Diary
M.Proust: A la Recherche du Temps perdu
Sophocles; Tragedies
W.G.Sebald; The rings of Saturn

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