Let me begin by listing some of my favourite authors:
William Kowalski, Andrey Kurkov, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jonathan Lethem, Henning Mankell, Cormac McCarthy, Ian McEwan, Matthew Kneale, Spike Milligan, Magnus Mills, David Mitchell, John Mortimer, Chris Mullin, Haruki Murakami,
Yep, they’re all from the same small section of the alphabet, or, more accurately, the same small section of the bookshelf.
‘What a coincidence’ you say. Well, you’d be wrong. My preferences in writers derives in part not from literary reviews I’ve read, recommendations from friends, but when I was about 16 onwards, when I got all my books from the library, and would go to the letter ‘M’ section to see if they had anything by John Mortimer, Spike Milligan, etc. Whilst looking I’d browse the other books in the section, slowly discovering other writers. Gradually I’d gain new favourites, all beginning with K to M, so my incentives for visiting the same small section of shelves grew ever more compulsive, every book in the section would be turned over, examined, flicked through.
When I could afford to buy books I continued to seek out the same shelves, discovering more new writers that hadn’t quite made it to the library.
Look again at the list. It’s pretty good isn’t it? A wide mix of writers, including representatives from America, Japan and Sweden, with a surprisingly high proportion of Pulitzer Prize winners and a couple of booker faves. It ranges from humour, surrealism to high end intellectual stuff, crime, drama, comedy and true life.
Of course, the downer here is that my own name doesn’t fit, I’m at completely the wrong end of the bookstore, if I ever get published there’s no chance I’d ever read one of my books, what would I be doing looking under ‘Clark’?