Two people have ever rendered me speechless when they’ve guested at FP… and the other one was Ray Harryhausen. I was 14 when I fell in love with Land, and (while Covenant remains an irritating twat), that love has never, ever left me… and distils to my own writing to this day.
Eugene O’Neill ‘The Iceman Cometh’
I love the play – and the moral dichotomy. When the Iceman breaks the fabricated reality of the rather lost cast of characters… does he do the right thing? It cuts very close to the bone, and I still don’t know the answer.
Oh my GODS the continuity!! Simply the most finely wrought, beautifully convoluted timeline… I love the Hitchhiker series as much as the next (wo)man, but this… is a thing of beauty.
Kurt Vonnegut ‘Galapagos’
In VIth form, my English teacher recommended this as his favourite book ever. He wasn’t wrong. Again, the gloriously wrought timeline – plus Vonnegut’s dry sense of humour shown in true shrewd, sharp style with the wonderfully bizarre cast.
I think I embarrassed MMS when I told him how much I enjoyed this book. It’s absolutely off-the-wall, clever, insightful and breakneck downhill. And it has cats.
John Milton ‘Paradise Lost’
I know, its cheesy – but I can’t do this without adding at least one Major English Work and I love it. It big, it’s bold, it’s ludicrously OTT… but as allegorical works go, it’s the fucking Daddy.
Peter Mathiessen ‘The Snow Leopard’
A tale about discovery – about going looking for one thing and finding completely something else. The only religious text you’ll ever need.
It’s DIFFERENT. It’s new, it’s brutal, it’s vicious; it takes no prisoners. It’s almost a concept book – no-one has ever written robots like this. My absolutely top book of last year; it absolutely blew me away. If you haven’t read it – why not??
Tom Stoppard ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’
Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads.
William Golding ‘The Lord of the Flies’
Another core text – but with good reason. The boys’ descent into brutality is drawn in both blood and pity; and the scene of the dead man in the parachute haunts me to this day. There are echoes of Golding’s voice in David Moody’s ‘Hater’ – another book I really enjoyed.
Much as I love LOTR, its presence is too predictable – and this was written in the 1920’s. It’s simple, it’s beautiful; it’s elegant, the imagery is massively powerful and absolutely sincere. A fontspring for the genre.
T. H. White ‘The Once and Future King’
Add to this one ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ and ‘The Mists of Avalon’ and several more besides… I went through a phase of being smitten with the whole thing. I guess there’s always been a part of me that’d like to believe it has its feet in the truth. Saxon, maybe?
Robert Holdstock ‘Mythago Wood’
My copy of Mythago Wood was pressed into my hands by Rob Holdstock in person – shocked when I ‘fessed that I’d never read it. I promised him solemnly that I would – but hadn’t started it when he died a month or so later. I’m sorry I never got the chance to tell him how dream-woven, poignant and lovely the story really is.
Andy Remic ‘War Machine’
An odd choice to close – but absolutely belongs in this list. War Machine was my Pivot Book, the one that made me realise that I ‘could do this’. It was the book that started me writing again (seriously) after an eight-year drought. One day, I will blog about this properly…
Apologies – this was only posted here because Nick tagged me to ‘fess up and Facebook’s being an arse. Because of my job, I made a professional choice: I DON’T write book reviews!