Friday 13th March 2020
Q1) The first book you ever loved
The Beano annual 1970 - it had a drawing of Dennis the Menace holding a giant lolly on the cover and it was very dear to me and my brother - so much so the spine broke.
Q2) The book I have read more than any other
Probably Billy Liar. I studied it at school and instantly loved it, watched the film a million times too. It's one of the greatest coming of age stories - funny, gripping and irresistibly melancholy.
Q3) A book that you despise
I tend not to spend time with books I hate - life's too short.
Q4) A book full of beautiful writing
To The Lighthouse - if you're looking for a beautifully judged description of a coastal path, an overgrown garden or the inner life of a woman, Virginia Woolf is your gal. As for contemporary writers, Elizabeth Strout is in a league of her own.
Q5) The book you've been meaning to read for years, but haven't
There are a lot of books I SHOULD read, but will probably never get round to. I'd like to learn about Greek mythology and the lives of the saints. Big juicy ancient stories with lots of lust and bloodshed.
Q6) The book you're reading currently
The Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith. Does anything ordinary ever happen to her? She finds talismans full of spiritual meaning that lead her to Japan or Ayres Rock or the graves of dead French poets with alarming regularity. Most people just go to work, but I love her meditative wanderings - they're very liberating. Nobody can fuck with her.
Q7) Your favourite short story
City of Boys by Beth Nugent was an anthology of short stories I got as a present in the 90s. I don't remember one story in particular, but together they had this very empty American suburban atmosphere of brooding and waiting, which was very alluring.
Q8) Your all-time favourite novel
Slaves of New York by Tama Janowitz is perfect. It's stylish and funny and cartoonish and bonkers, it's about being a fish out of water, it sends up the art world, it's set in 80s NYC and everyone in it is neurotic as hell. All the things I love. ●
Lucy Sweet is a writer and cartoonist based in Glasgow. She is the author of two novels, and a feminist comic book called Unskinny. She writes regularly for the Big Issue and her work is featured in several publications, including Fanzines (Taschen, 2010) and The Inking Woman (2016).