WHAT BOOK would Sebastian Faulks take to a desert island?


WHAT BOOK would Sebastian Faulks take to a desert island?

WHAT BOOK 

. . . are you reading now?

A Certain Idea Of France: The Life Of Charles De Gaulle by Julian Jackson. A superb biography of one of the most baffling, impossible, outrageous, small-minded, contradictory, but also heroic and history-defining figures of the 20th century.

A gawky, charmless, little-known soldier, he took it on himself personally to rescue and preserve the honour of France when it had been crushed by Germany in 1940. This involved out-politicking Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt, and fighting his fellow-Frenchmen where necessary.

All this with only a handful of men at his disposal, scattered around the globe. Whenever he faced an impossible problem, he worked to reshape the terms of it until there was only one answer: Charles de Gaulle!

Sebastian Faulks would take Money by the late Martin Amis to a desert island with him despite having already read it three times

Sebastian Faulks would take Money by the late Martin Amis to a desert island with him despite having already read it three times 

. . . would you take to a desert island?

Money by Martin Amis. I reviewed it when it came out in 1984 (gosh, how old we have become . . .) and loved its humour, bravado and scintillating verbal brilliance.

I’ve read it three times since, and I think it would stand a fifth reading as the waves lapped at my feet. No one wrote sentences like the young Amis; no one made us laugh as much.

When I interviewed him about the book for a television programme back in 2012, he said that when he handed it in, he thought everyone who read it would tell him he was completely bonkers. On the contrary. It was his best book.

The 11-year-old Faulks loved everything about the Sherlock Holmes stories

The 11-year-old Faulks loved everything about the Sherlock Holmes stories 

. . . first gave you the reading bug?

The Return Of Sherlock Holmes. At the age of 11, I loved everything about these stories. The formula was reassuring. The fog of Baker Street, the damsel in distress who came up the stairs to consult, the hero’s scratchy violin and dope habit, then the show-off revelations made from our man’s observations of thumbs and cuffs and cigar ash.

Next came the long train journey to a spooky house, then the slow uncovering of some terrible deeds in a steamy part of Empire long ago.

Sex, violence and mystery. What more could an 11-year-old reader want? I could hardly wait to get under the blankets at night and move on to the next story.

. . . left you cold?

Bertolt Brecht and Jackie Collins, and anything that wants to teach me how to be ‘the best version of myself’, whether by diet, exercise or ‘lifestyle change’. 

My ambition is to be the least good version of myself that I can possibly get away with. If you want to be ‘inspired’, read de Gaulle, as above. All things are possible!

  • Sebastian Faulks will be speaking at the Bradford Literature Festival, from June 23 to July 2. It is an annual festival and year-round cultural outreach programme, encompassing the best of literature, music, theatre, cultural discussions, lectures and family events. Find out more about the programme and buy your tickets via bradfordlitfest.co.uk



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