Philip Whiteley's Blog

September 11, 2018

Three books

Filed under: Uncategorized — felipewh @ 7:42 pm

Which books influenced your latest work? You could frame the question a different way: which books didn’t? Every book we read enriches our vocabulary and deepens our learning. Only a few of the greats have had a momentous personal impact, transforming my world view: The Plague, 100 Years of Solitude, Don Quijote, Jennings Goes to School.

The way in which the books we’ve read shape our understanding of our solitary, finite existence is the theme of my memoir which perhaps, one day, may be completed. From the Introduction, I write:

Reading is a physical activity, not just a mental one. We like the touch and smell of a paper book, and if we use an e-reader and we love the book we will probably purchase the hardback version too, just to have, and to hold. We are more than the sum of the books we have read, but we are not the same as we would have been had we not read them; not even nearly the same; scarcely fully human.

In a truly inspired idea, my fellow Unbound author Mark Bowsher invited authors to name three books that most influenced their latest opus. For The Rooms We Never Enter, this required some thought; the idea for the story originated from real life, not the world of literature, as most of my ideas do. Inevitably, of course, the examples of earlier works steered the sub-conscious towards some of the themes, situations and characters. Of the three that came to mind as most relevant, it struck me that two would be regarded as ‘popular’ fiction, and the other as more literary. I always find this distinction arbitrary, and at times irritating. One of the gifts of some popular novelists who have written accessible, entertaining books is the ability to bring a character so vividly to life you feel you’ve actually met them – two examples I often cite are Reggie Perrin and Bridget Jones. It’s an ability that some literary authors lack.

So my three were: Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby, Bridget Jones’ Diary, by Helen Fielding, and The Kiss of the Spiderwoman by Manuel Puig. Mark’s done a fantastic job to unearth the vivid covers of the originals. To read more, click on this link!

And to pledge to The Rooms We Never Enter, click on this link!


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