William Boyd’s BOOK CLUB


This room is my study;
the throbbing creative heart of the house. I write most of my novels here, and
it contains an odd mixture of books, probably one sixth of the books that are in the house. We have a major book storage problem. This study contains a lot of the books that
I used to research my various novels. I can find anything in about two minutes, I’ve got
an incredible memory and I think most people who have lots of books sort of know where
they are and are very rarely caught out. This is a pamphlet of poems by Philip Larkin,
published in 1951, twenty poems, privately printed when he was a librarian in Belfast. He hadn’t published a book of poetry by this time, and a lot of these went into his first book, The North Ship. He only wrote four books of poetry, Larkin,
very costive, slow-writing poet. And I think there are only a few dozen copies in existence of this, so it’s possibly the rarest book of poems I have.
It was also far and away the most expensive. Here’s an example of a little book I bought,
The Composer’s Vade Mecum, gives you an explanation of all the musical terms; embasso, ostianato, impetuoso, etcetera. A little mini dictionary for musicians. Here’s another little one, it’s called
The Thumb Dictionary, published in 1900. It’s absolutely minute print, but because my novel
is set in 1895 I worried about anachronisms and so if you can’t find the word in here
then it probably wasn’t in use in 1895. Again a beautiful little thing, it cost a fiver
or something like that. Well this is the kind of sitting room,
the biggest room in the house. What have I got up here? Kilvert’s Diary. Pepys’ Diaries; I mean he only kept it for ten years,
but it’s a massive piece of work. Edmund Wilson, he wrote diaries all his life,
you’ve got the twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties. A kind of cantankerous man, sort of complex and bitter, but they’re very honest. That’s him as a young man, friend
of Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, and probably the leading literary critic
of his generation. These journals are phenomenally honest
and they detail his many love affairs with complete and utter explicit candour. That’s what journals give you I think, that access
to the individual mind; unfiltered and unshaped. And so Wilson, complicated man,
he hated the English, interestingly. I’m a great lover of Evelyn Waugh. I’ve read
everything Waugh’s written I think, every word, and I’m fascinated by him as a man as
well as, as a writer And this is a copy of his most famous novel,
Brideshead Revisited, not the first edition – I have got the first edition – but this is an edition that was
a uniform edition that came out as he wasn’t very happy with the first version of Brideshead,
he thought it was a bit over the top. He’s He’s actually dedicated this novel to the man,
who was a friend, who wrote the first biography of him, Christopher Sykes. ‘From whom every
character in this romance was assiduously drawn by his affectionate friend, Evelyn Waugh’. It’s funny to think of him sitting down in his library in his stately home, and writing this out for his chum. There are two writers I’ve read recently who
I was massively struck by, young writers. One is by a young woman called Evie Wyld,
which is called All The Birds Singing. It’s one of the most technically accomplished novels
I’ve read, but she came up with an amazing structure for her novel, and it’s very powerful. And the other novel I read last year, by a
young writer, he’s called David Szalay… ah, here we are – that is a fluke. He wrote a novel called All That Man Is.
In a way it’s like nine stories covering, if you like, all the ages of man, but in Europe. So you get a bodyguard to a Croatian prostitute,
or you get some dodgy architect in the Balearics. He ranges through Europe and
he picks certain examples of European men, it’s very funny, but it’s also incredibly
accurate. So they’re two young writers who I’ll be going
straight for their next books. [interviewer] How many books do you think you own? Erm, I think it must be, um, over ten thousand. You can’t chuck books out, even if you don’t want them, so they sort of pile up as well. It’s a massive problem, but as somebody said, well if I have to spend another ten thousand
years in limbo because I bought too many books in my life, then I’m prepared to put up with it.

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4 thoughts on “William Boyd’s BOOK CLUB”

  1. blood honey says:

    Twee-est music ever

  2. alex jervis says:

    Missing from the list?
    ''An Ice Cream War'.
    Does have Waugh overtones?
    Would make a cracking movie: American Central figure, the Germans and an English man!
    Why hasn't it been made?
    I haven't seen a new movie that I've wanted to watch for a very long time!

  3. kelman727 says:

    Hard to believe the creator of Morgan Leafy sounds so effeminate.

  4. consultdragt says:

    Oh Lord, you poor filthy pfuck. Szalay cannot comprehend what it is to be truly European. He's a Jew. Goddamn Man. I have sworn off all books written by Jews and most that were published by them. They are not trying to inform me, they are trying to shape me. And, for that they must receive the ultmate punishment. Let them write their own All that Man is.

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