02 June 2005

I'm It

Ova Girl has virtually tagged me - see, she's even given me a font-change.
She wants me and other bloggers to complete the following bookish survey. So here goes.

1) Total number of books I’ve owned:

There are about 1,200 in the flat, extrapolating from the count I made of one wall of the study here. Many of these belong to B, and I'm still carting around the odd classics text from school. Total I've owned? In my life, I've no idea. But I rarely get rid.
When I grow up I want to be able to buy any book I want.

2)Last book I bought:

The Voice of War, a compilation of first-hand accounts of WW2.
Before that, Ted Hughes' version of Alcestis (second hand), Dave Eggers' Short Short Stories.

3)Last book I read:
Text of Emma Frost's play Airsick. As I'm in the middle of a play I'm mostly reading snippets of research. The last novel I read was Oracle Night by Paul Auster.

4)5 books that mean a lot to me.

Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, because it unlocked for me certain things about my development (as a young man more than artist, I don't presume to bracket myself with JJ there) I hadn't yet understood.

A Man On The Moon by Andrew Chaikin. I fell in love with the Apollo missions to the moon while sharing a house in Clapham with some of the finest people. We were all marooned in penury and uncertainty at that time. I later wrote about Apollo for a living. And wrote a play, an update of Oblomov, with the moon and its exploration as metaphor for Oblomov's distracted, other-wordly meanderings. The set was a cross between a bed and a lunar lander. Anyway Chaikin's book is the Apollophile's bible.

Robinson Crusoe because it was such a head-fuck, I couldn't believe how good it was and I'm now all excited about reading all the other classics I've shied away from for myriad misguided reasons. I read it shortly after moving to Stoke Newington. I pass the Robinson Crusoe pub every day. (Only had the one drink in there though, bit of an old geezers' boozer.)

Rites Of Passage/Close Quarters/Fire Down Below by William Golding. I wrote the Nobel-Winning One a fan letter, I think it was 1988. He wrote back. I couldn't and still can't believe it. My angle in my letter was that there was always one of his books on my desk, in amongst.. and I listed all the things on my desk. This was his reply, in an impressively curly hand:
Thank you for the praise
which has "touched my trembling
If there is anything
in the cheque-book I recommend
"A Moving Target".


William Golding

A Milton quote, and an advert for his new book. Class.
It's framed on the wall behind me.

So there it is. I can't see anyone in the playground I can tag without getting funny looks. If you'd like to be tagged, come out from behind the science block and post your own booky thoughts, be they on your own blog or in comments here or at Ova Girl's place. Look forward to them.


That was only four when OG'd asked for five. So I'll add... I was going to say Girlfriend In A Coma, but I think I'll go for Generation X, by Douglas Coupland. It doesn't mean a lot to me in the sense that I was a slacker or anything. Because I'm not a slacker, in that I never had anything to slack off from. I am, rather, an idler. No Generation X is meaningful to me simply because I can still recall how much pleasure it gave me. And that means a lot. I adored the style, I laughed at the jokes, I even liked all the little slogans, like - "DEAD AT 30, BURIED AT 70",
"SHOPPING IS NOT CREATING", "THE SUN IS YOUR ENEMY". Most of all I liked the characters - Andy, Dag, Claire. Impossibly wry and sympathetic and knowing and timorous, living in a burnt out Americana landscape psychically twinned with every downbeat twenty-something lair in the West. Julian bought it me for my 26th. Thanks, Julian.


Anonymous said...

Do you know Billy Bragg's song called The Space Race is Over?
It's brilliant about that Apollo time and being a boy.

Ova Girl said...

excellent work sbs - you have inspired me to read Robinson C. never have, never did but remember seeing it in my parents library as a kid and always being facinated by lurid picture of himself wandering on the beach. I think i thought it was a 'boy's book'. (C and i lived for a v.short time in stokey just by the by, i have a short story set there which i may post one day.)

Books are good things, hey.

Anonymous said...

13 Manchuria.

Robinson Crusoe now on my list, too.


sbs said...

Anon - am looking for the song and will get back to you when I've heard it.
Re: Crusoe, I suppose for many, myself included, the book got mixed up with the (superb, but badly dubbed) German tv version they showed on the BBC when I was a kid. Also it gets lumped with Treasure Island and that sort of thing. Or politely ignored as unsalvageably non-pc.