Brian Catling is the author of The Vorrh, a brilliant and original novel, and the first book in an epic trilogy. We caught up with Brian this week to find out about the books that changed his life and influenced him the most. Here are his choices, in his own words
I have chosen these books because they were all jolts in my understanding of both the world and the word; generators of a total originality that wrenched my gaze and perception into the trajectory of unknown directions. They also contain devilish humour...
Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allen Poe
I maybe cheating here by taking the complete collection of short stories from the master of dark and obsessive prose. Totally original in his time, these are astonishing works but it is Poe’s language that so captivates. The sheer joy of the sound of the words; the balancing and dancing on the gnarled line of their twisted meaning.
If you have any doubts about its phonetics then listen to Basil Rathbone’s stern savouring of every syllable.
Flying to Nowhere - John Fuller
A miniature masterpiece. This slim novel by the English poet and Oxford Don was a great encouragement for writing The Vorrh. Its visual power and elegance of storytelling takes your breath away, long after you finish reading it.
Poems in English - Samuel Beckett
Dizzying with its transformative vocabulary and a total realignment of the anatomy of reading and my expectations. Unknown words blossom with fantastic lucidity inside parts of the brain that have never been used before. When I first read it I could feel my dendrites crackling to a smoulder as they fell over each other in joy, while searching for a dictionary.
Impressions of Africa - Raymond Roussel
Irritating, confusing and obscure. Each of those sublime conditions drives the invention and perversity of every event in this book to levels never dared at in other fiction. This is an artist’s book. Cherished by those who have had no choice about being seriously affected and infected by it.
The Third Policeman - Flan O’Brien
A wonderful book, mysterious, unexpected and profound. A multi-layered world explained by a red-nosed narrator who is a thousand times more reliable than Virgil, Dante’s guide in Heaven and Hell.
The genius of the book continually stopped me in my tracks and nearly made me piss myself laughing while reading on a bus.
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy
A savage, visionary rodeo of violence and hallucination that shocks, cradles and terrifies. A masterwork of understatement and over expression. Delicious.
In all the years that Iain Sinclair tried to cajole, persuade and threaten me into writing a novel this was his greatest weapon. He practically welded it into my hands.
I still carry the scars, for which I am eternally grateful.