Books That Have Inspired Me:
In my youth, my favourite writers were William Burroughs, Ronald Firbank and Ivy Compton-Burnett, but my own subsequent writing–as far as I can tell–shows no sign of their influence. I suspect that they appealed precisely because they were so utterly weird and wonderful that they precluded any attempts at emulation. Your only realistic aspiration is to try to honour their originality through the gradual discovery and development of your own. Bill, Ron and Ivy would have agreed, I’m sure, that the only point in writing is to “make it new”.
Books I Have Enjoyed Reading Recently:
I’ve recently been tackling Celebrated Books I’ve Never Got Around To. Any sense of duty or self-mortification was soon dispelled: The Divine Comedian and The Sage Of Weimar–or “Daunty and Gouty”, as Joyce dubbed them–are the best of companions. Particular recommendations: Eckermann’s Conversations With Goethe–in which it’s the disciple rather the master who wins your heart as well as most of the arguments…Manzoni’s The Betrothed–I’d feared a long trudge through Italian politics but it’s actually a knockabout satirical comedy-romance with hidden and resonant depths…And, finally, Gyorgy Falludi’s autobiographical My Happy Days In Hell–a Hungarian poet flees the Nazis, fights in the US Army and ends up in a Gulag…through every ordeal his love of life never flags, nor do his human sympathy and relish for the absurd. As someone wrote on Amazon, “This is the life that all of us should have!”
Bill Broady is the author of two novels – Swimmer (2000) and Eternity is Temporary (2006). His short story collection, In This Block There Lives A Slag, won the 2002 Macmillan/PEN prize. With Jane Metcalfe he edited You Are Here: The ‘Redbeck’ Book of Contemporary British Short Stories (2006). His new novel, The Night-Soil Men, will be published next year.