Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My Dark Places

Plan your day-trips to Tyttenhanger, Herbert's Hole, Minges and Claggy Cott here

(Thanks for the tip, Van).

And Norm's favourite writers poll result is up.

You can do these kinds of polls - if you have Norm's traffic. But I wonder if he's choosing the right subjects for them.

His method is:
"You are allowed ten choices..... I ask you to submit a top three amongst them, with another seven for good measure. If you rank your top three, as you may but do not have to, they will be awarded 4, 3 and 2 points; and if you don't rank them, they will be awarded 3 points each. Your other seven choices will get 1 point each."
You need to know that my hasty entry (note: English language novellists only) was as follows:

1 - Brian Moore
2 - Graham Greene
3 - John McGahern

... and then, Evelyn Waugh, Flann O'Brien, Alan Silitoe, James Ellroy, Elmore Leonard, Brendan Behan and Douglas Coupland.

A non-English language list would look a bit different though. A few of my real top-ten are novellists published in translation.

This method doesn't allow most contributors to show off about how marvelous their tastes are. And this element of it would surely make it better for running a 'guilty secrets' poll?

Morrissey once said that he could despise someone for something that he found in their record collection, and I can go along with that. But there are one or two discs that only get played behind closed doors in our house. On headphones.

If I had Norm's traffic, I'd do a poll like this, asking:

List the top five bands that no-one admits to liking, but that you secretly have a bit of a passion for.
And you'd all be able to e-mail me - in confidence (!) - about how you actually don't mind David Gray, Crowded House and ELO.... erm .... or other dreadful acts that I can't stand....



mikeovswinton said...

I don't go along with your top 3, Paulie, but at least there's no place there for Jane Austen, thank gawd. I was amazed that Reginald Hill didn't feature. And how about John Harvey, if only for Resnick. Or was Charlie too much a County Road Side man for you? There should, as I have noted elsewhere, surely be a place for Alexander McCall Smith, the Stackhanov of British letters. None of 'em touch Herman Hesse , anyway. Should I have written that on a blog called Never trust a Hippy?

Paulie said...


I've not read any Reginald Hill or John Harvey, though they're both on my list.

Care to recommend a good starting point for either?

I heard some Alexander McCall Smith (that detective agency story) on the wireless a while ago and wasn't tempted.

mikeovswinton said...

McCall Smith is the crack cocaine of literature. I've been reading him non-stop now for about 3 months. Nothing happens. Middle Class Edinburgh denizens do their thing in a very civilized way. But you keep turning the pages. (And I've not touched the Botswana ones that you heard.)

John Harvey; the Resnick series is brilliant. Start with the earliest and just work through one by one. My wife has enjoyed the recent "Ash and Bone" (I think) books too, without Charlie R. I believe Resnick is on his way back. (Mrs mikeovswinton also suggests you try Mark Billington if you haven't already.)

Reginald Hill; my favourite is Dialogues of the Dead from 2001. Some of my sniffier "tec" type friends think that this is where he ceased being a real crime writer and went weird. I just enjoyed the thing from start to finish. Arms and the Women is quite good too. The TV people had just killed off Pascoe's wife in the series, so Hill wrote a Dalziel and Pascoe with Pascoe's wife as the lead character! Most of the D&P series are worth a go. Helpful?