The previous blog about feeding your head with books has got me thinking. As Paul Morley explained, songwriters with well-used bookcases tend to deliver better stuff. For instance. where would 'OK Computer' be without Thom Yorke's preference for Chomsky, Will Hutton, JG Ballard and George Monbiot? And what about the Manics Street Preachers, who spat out Plath and Pinter and declared that "libraries gave us power". Meantime the most vivid part of Bob Dylan's Chronicles finds him at the home of a New York bohemian and he's devouring the French symbolist poetry and heavy thinkers, stacked on the wall, mind-bombs all.
Back at school, we kept our paperbacks in the blazer pocket like a loaded revolver. I'm trying hard to remember the exact titles and the timescale, but I'm sure many of you kind readers were into the same practice, and can remind me of the details.
Catch 22 was definitely there, and I even tried Joseph Hellers' Something Happened as a foretaste of middle aged dread. There was definitely a bit of Kafka, some Camus (L'Etranger for starters, natch), Sartre, and later a soupçon of Gide. The classic boy challenger was On The Road by Kerouac, coupled with The Hitchhiker's Guide To Europe. That also gave me some solace on a personally messy journey from Montauban to Grenoble, accompanied by ferocious sunburn, heartbreak and financial follies.
I also dug The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart and some Richard Brautigan. My friends were sniffy about Tolkein after first form but I had my sci fi moments, particularly John Wyndam. I think I read The Kraken Wakes ahead of The Day Of The Triffids, but it was The Chrysalids that slayed me. Later there was Hemingway and Tom Wolfe, Henry Miller, Salinger, Jim Carroll, Falkner, Elliot, Bukowski, Conrad, Plath, Grass and Roth.
In lighter moments there was John Irving, Henry Root and PJ O' Rourke, plus the lyrical steam of Ian Hunter and Diary Of A Rock And Roll Star. My eldest daughter has just started on the Great Gatsby and to my surprise, I can still remember chunks of the closing section about the green light and the boats against the current. Heady material. These are old pals that I've badly neglected and must get to know again.