Then, just as everything looked like it couldn't fail, disaster struck: M Magazine, the supplement the article was to appear in, was summarily closed down and my big moment was lost.
So ... moving on ... I've decided to post my six favourite reads here for you to peruse. Take a look and let me know what you think. Why not post your own choices once you've checked out mine?
The Life of Pi – Yann Martel
An Indian boy called Pi spends two hundred and twenty seven days on a raft with a Bengal Tiger. Surely, there’s no better tale of pragmatic and spiritual survival.
Just what the lonesome island dweller needs. Even now I wonder if the Meercats were real.
Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt
I love hearing voices written in the first person and McCourt does a splendid job of this in his gritty memoir. The protagonist’s voice grows and matures from that of a tiny child to a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, in perfect parallel with the development of Frankie’s character.
While I was writing Bloody Flies one of my goals was to create voices as sharp as McCourt’s. If the result is judged to be half as good as his work I’ll be a happy man.
The Inspector Rebus Series – Ian Rankin
Detective John Rebus is my favourite fictional character. The reason I’ve picked the whole series is because no one novel does him justice.
Rankin ages the sleuth in real-time, over more than twenty years, from something of a cerebral action hero, to a world weary grumpy old man. During that time we see him drive his wife and daughter away, and his relationships with partner Siobhan and nemesis Big Ger develop. Rebus is like one of the family and I wish Ian Rankin would bring him back – just one more time.
Siddartha – Hermann Hesse
Sometimes life on a desert island can feel a little bleak (Especially after reading Angela’s Ashes). So when the blues set in and I need a spiritual lift this is the book I’ll reach for. Written in simple prose, the novel follows the life of the Brahmin Siddartha on his quest for enlightenment.
After reading this, you can’t help but see beauty in even the darkest of places.
Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
Now and again everyone needs a good cry, and Doctor Zhivago certainly guarantees tears. Yuri Zhivago is a middle class dreamer who simply wants to live out a contented life with his wife and family. Unfortunately, he is caught up in the tumultuous Russian Revolution and circumstances don’t allow him the peace he craves. With his life thrown into chaos he begins a powerful love affair with the beautiful Lara.
Despite Yuri becoming an adulterer and a hypocrite, the reader never loses empathy for Zhivago and his doomed quest for happiness.
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
Sparse, gritty, simple: Hemingway is the master of the clean sentence, and this novella shows Papa at his best.
The battle with the sailfish is epic and a copy of this in my island library would surely come in handy whenever I needed to catch lunch.