London Fields by Martin Amis
The prose is vicious and sublime. To me Amis’ best writing is like a delicious sick poetry which gives me the same thrill as Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. The book is stuffed with memorable turns of phrase, horribly realised detail and texture and is also hilarious from start to finish.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
This book taught me how much drama, character and emotional impact you could have in a few words. He inspired me to try and include a setting into my writing; to set the scene or give some context to the place where the story is unfolding. In my writing, this is more-often-than-not a coastal setting…
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
This book taught me two lessons; if you need it; learn it, make it, do it. Crusoe is a resourceful character tackling things one at a time without being overwhelmed. I read this book at a point in my life where that was exactly the advice I needed and I’ve carried it with me every since. It also taught me the timelessness of great writing and turned me onto other classics such as Dracula and The War of The Worlds.
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke
The unbridled excitement and eeriness are felt throughout the unfolding of this meticulously detailed story. As with all of his books; character takes a backseat to the adventure and the expertly crafted world and technology. The unsolved nature of the mysteries means this one still pops into my head from time to time; more so than 2001 and it’s sequels.
I Drive A Valance by Bill Callahan
This choice is a bit of a cheat as I’ve never read it cover to cover. Yet, still I know every line by heart. It was the emotional intensity and story-telling power of lyrics that got me interested in writing back when I was 15 and it’s lyrics that continue to inspire and move me on a daily basis. Through Bill I discovered a masterful use of potent imagery, brevity and repetition. I could have just as easily have chosen the collected lyrics of Leonard Cohen or Joni Mitchell but Bill found me first.
Tom Alexander grew up in the North East of England before spending 16 years living in Oxford and London. He has now settled in Yorkshire. He is the author of one collection of poetry and is working on a second alongside his first novel. One of These Years: Selected Poems 2003-2019 is available now on Amazon. He has been a long standing contributor to WriteOutLoud.net; winning the coveted ‘Poem of the Week’ on occasion. You can find him online at http://www.oneoftheseyears.com and follow him on Twitter @tomalexwrite