En Bref with Alex Pheby
En Bref is back, this time with Alex Pheby, who’ll be joining us next Monday, 11 April, to talk about his astonishing historical “neuro-novel” Playthings, on the current shortlist for the Wellcome Book Prize…
Who is your favourite novelist of all time?
I can’t tell you who my real favourite author is because this is one of the security questions that would give you access to my bank account, and most of my online passwords are based on titles of his/her books, so let’s say Patrick Hamilton. Or Philip K. Dick.
What is the last book you read that made you laugh?
I picked up an old edition of The Diary of a Nobody the other day and read it as I was walking home – that always makes me laugh (and collide with street furniture). I share an office with Paul Ewen, so Francis Plug too.
What is the last book you read that made you cry?
Flowers for Algernon, walking to work this time. That poor mouse…
If you could require the leader of your country to read one book, what would it be?
Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. Hopefully, once they’d read it, they’d dismantle their repressive state apparatuses and do us all a favour. They might consider doing something useful for a change – like fixing a cracked sewer, or putting up some shelves.
What is your favourite sentence from any book ever?
God knows… Are we supposed to be able to remember this kind of thing? I know at school they used to make us memorise lines of Virgil, and recite poems in Greek, but I thought that was all gone now, what with Google. Pick a line from Nabokov; they’re all good.