Writer & editor
Joseph Ridgwell

Friday 8th May 2020

Q1) The first book you ever loved

I taught myself to read when I was around 3 or four, and one of the first books I read was - The Chocolate Rain by Bronnie Cunningham. Instead of raindrops, chocolate drops fell from the sky. That bamboozled my childlike thought processes. Also I was a little chocolate deprived as a child, as my parents didn’t want my teeth to rot, so maybe that’s why the idea of chocolate rain resonated so much.

Q2) The book you've read more than any other

If I like something I will read it several times, so there are a few, but I guess topping the list must be - The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. My parents gave me this book when I was around 7, and the tales fascinated and terrified me at the same time. I mean, Little Red Riding Hood, that’s some seriously scary story! And then there’s Hansel & Gretel, that story includes a cannibalistic witch! It’s a pity Walt Disney got his grubby mitts on some of those legends because he completely fucked them up. What he did to Snow White was an abomination!

Q3) A book that you despise

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride. I don’t just despise this book I hate it with a venge-ance. I’m even getting angry just typing these words, ha! But seriously the book is unreadable, a laugh-able literary experiment of exceptional lameness, written by a writer with the intellectual capacity of a lump of jelly. Then there were all those half-wit hacks hailing it as a future classic! Mind you wasn’t it Mark Twain who said - A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read - so maybe those clowns were right!

Q4) A book full of beautiful writing

The Great Gatsby. In Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald is operating at the peaks of his not insubstantial liter-ary powers, and the beauty of the prose cannot be denied. And to think upon its original publication the book sold poorly.

Q5) The book you've been meaning to read for years, but haven’t

The Collected Books of Jack Spicer. Little known American poet, but very influential, especially on Richard Brautigan. He was an academic, and as is widely accepted academia is a creatively sterile place - but for once within it’s dusty halls appeared an original. And what did the university do to acknowledge this bright shining light? They kicked him out. Obviously originality and academia don’t mix. So it’s number one on my books to read list.

Q6) The book you're reading currently

Classics of the Macabre by Daphne Du Maurier. The Birds, the birds…Some great writing which has hardly dated at all. If any aspiring author wants to know how to start a short story - just guide them to the opening paragraph of Don’t Look Now.

Q7) Your favourite short-story

Shit, there are loads. I mean hundreds, but if I were to pick a winner, it would be - The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. Tears me up every time I read it. Just a beautiful story about love. And as we all know love is a losing game.

Q8) Your all-time favourite novel

Women by Charles Bukowski. Just laugh out loud funny. The book really shows what most men are like. You know, pretty useless at almost everything. And Bukowski wasn’t afraid to show that side. The bit where he gets lost in the woods of Utah is classic. It’s very honest writing, which we don’t see too much of these days. Most writers today write badly written fairy tales that are meaningless. ●

You can read Joseph's bio and about his writing projects on his personal website, and see more on his writing and editorial work on the site for East London Press.
t: @JosephRidgwell1


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