The Atrocity Exhibition – JG Ballard

This book changed the way I think about writing. Ballard’s ‘condensed novels’, non-linear narratives and ways of alluding to major events taking place somewhere off the page, gave me licence to explore my own psychic landscapes.

The English Assassin – Michael Moorcock

Arising out of the same ‘New Wave’, the character of Jerry Cornelius, being an avatar of the Eternal Champion, was a means of exploring the conflicts and contradictions of the 20th Century with wit and style. The fact that he hardly appears in this book is immaterial. His presence haunts each page.

The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury

After the intellectual cool of my previous choices, Bradbury reminded me of the need to engage the senses and remember my inner child. And at the end, he revealed that we are the Martians.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga – Chris Claremont

Forget the unsatisfactory films. Claremont’s run as writer of Marvel Comics X-Men was instrumental in getting me back to reading ‘graphic novels’. It’s easy to be snobbish, but it’s not much different to the serialisation of Dickens’s novels. And let’s face it, more enjoyable. The

Hissing Of Summer Lawns” – Joni Mitchell

OK, so it’s not a book. But I was conscious of not having chosen any poetry in my list. Read the lyric sheet. If you can find a better example of a ‘tone poem’, then I’ll eat my entire collection of vinyl.

John Wilks is the editor of Cerasus Poetry. He loves the smell (and possibly the taste) of vinyl.

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