I’m a voracious reader. Or at least, I aspire to be. Last year (2013) I set out to read a book a week for the year. I didn’t quite make it. But I continue with a similar aim even now.
I read a whole range of books, sometimes going through periods where I read lightweight books about zombies or comedic trifles, but at other times I read more serious books. This was even more the case when I was younger, when reading was less of a luxury, and I aspired to be more widely read. I went through phases of Aldous Huxley, Anthony Burgess, Iain Banks and 19th Century classics (Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte).
Some of these writers I loved for their story telling, some for their audacity with language and some for the breadth of ideas they conveyed. I remember reading ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and marvelling at the invention of a teen slang which is then used so skilfully that it never needs to be explained, and which was so self supporting that I would find myself thinking in Nadsat after I had finished reading.
My dream reader would be either my younger self, or Anthony Burgess himself. And if I were ever to write a long piece for proper publication I would want it to have elements that echoed Burgess himself.
One of the things I always thought most remarkable about Iain Banks as a writer was the thought that ‘The Wasp Factory’ was his first novel. And that seemed like and incredibly audacious beginning for any author. If you haven’t read it, then go, read and remember that this was the debut novel. You will see what I mean.