A meme from Orange Anubis at My Citrus Sarcophagus.
1. One book that changed your life
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce. Made me realise what you can do with life and language.
2. One book that you’ve read more than once
Vile Bodies, by Evelyn Waugh.
3. One book you’d want on a desert island
A la recherche du temps perdu, by Marcel Proust, but I'm told that it's never been translated properly, so I'd want a French edition with a nice big dictionary.
4. One book that made you laugh
It's a huge cliché, but I still snort with glee when I recall some of the one-liners in Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. When two or three HHGTTG junkies get together, the effect on outsiders must be deeply infuriating.
5. One book that made you cry
Ethel and Ernest, by Raymond Briggs. And, if short stories count, 'Old Man at the Bridge' by Ernest Hemingway.
6. One book that you wish had been written
I wish Dorothy Parker had knuckled down and written a novel.
7. One book that you wish had never been written
It's a bit of an obvious choice, but The Da Vinci Code does seem to serve very little purpose other than persuading stupid people to visit Paris.
8. One book you’re currently reading
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, by Haruki Murakami.
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read
See number 3, above. Also Tristram Shandy and The Qu'ran.
Meanwhile, the education secretary has been jiggling with the national curriculum, to ensure that the likes of Dickens and the Brontës remain in place. Now, no complaints there; but despite the allegations of dumbing down that he's fending off, look at the writers being edged out. That's hardly a catalogue of unabated populist crap.
Kids should be introduced to the greats, and should have their horizons stretched, sure. But I can sympathise with any teacher who might want to keep the attention of recalcitrant 12-year-old boys with, say, Hemingway or Orwell or Greene or Steinbeck or Golding; only to be told that Trollope or Bunyan will be a better bet. And if anybody wants to tell me that Hemingway is a less significant, less good writer than, say, Wilkie Collins, I've got chapter and verse to shoot you down. First salvo is 'Old Man at the Bridge' (see above) the greatest short story ever written by man or beast, so there.
Somewhere on the border between old and new media, Ian Hocking interviews Scott Pack. I was a wee bit rude about the former Waterstones big cheese in April; now it turns out that he's a big fan of Murakami, Auster and David Mitchell. Curses! Does this mean he's actually a decent bloke? You can find out at his newish blog.
And finally, Steven Berlin Johnson offers five things about the blogging/legit journalism interface that we all accept, so can we shut up (and thanks to Shane Richmond for flagging this one up). The only question is, if we accept these statements to be self-evident, how will columnists on The Independent occupy their time?