Monday, 15 March 2010


I have a friend who knows how to interrupt me. He’ll pop up in my inbox, laying down some sort of enumeration challenge: ‘Ten books you’d save in a fire; five songs played at your funeral; films that changed (but that didn’t really) your life.’ He knows whatever I’m in the middle of, I’ll take the bait, and we’ll argue the toss about the flaws in each other’s list, the oversights, the absence of originality. Distracting, pointless, compulsive.

And so, before you leave and return to something with a purpose, I want your top five. Of anything you like, literary or otherwise.

From here I can see my shelves of short story collections, so I’ll kick off with those (stories, that is, not collections).

1. 'The Lottery' – Shirley Jackson
2. 'Last Night' – James Salter
3. 'The Dressmaker’s Child' – William Trevor
4. 'The Dream' – Julian Barnes
5. 'What We Talk about When We Talk about Love' – Raymond Carver

Utterly meaningless and will be different next week.

So, come on then…


Vanessa Gebbie said...

My top five of things that come in fives.

My fingers, right hand.
Ditto, left.
Toes, right foot.
Ditto, left.

'Take Five' - fab piece of music...

Sara Crowley said...

Top five online procrastination tools:

Reading other people's blogs
Writing my own blog

Adnan said...

watch movie trailers

Paul said...

Okay, five novels I would take to my desert island:

Moby Dick (Melville)
The Ghost Writer (Roth)
Maqroll collection (Mutis)
Walden (Thoreau)
A hefty Iris Murdoch novel, but I haven't read them all, so I can't really make a choice yet.

TOM J VOWLER said...

V - Ha!
Sara - Apart from Tweeting, yep, done em all.
Ditto, Adnan.
Paul - to my shame, not read any of them; where should I start?

Glen said...

5 Women that I really shouldn't, but probably would...

Helen Mirren dressed as 'The Queen'
Jenny Agutter
Dawn French
Amy Winehouse
The Queen

Paul Lamb said...

Tom - Definitelty The Ghost Writer. Not only is it Roth at his very best, but it is about a writer seeking validation for his work. Very nice movie was made of this too.

kbxmas said...

Five favorite synonyms for agony: disconsolateness, desolation, torment, wretchedness, weltschmerz.

Don't ask me why I thought of that. I'm not fond of agony.

Aliya Whiteley said...

Top five interesting vegetables to look at:

broad bean

and, of course, the classic:

oddly shaped potato

TOM J VOWLER said...

Glen - no comment!
Paul - yeah, I've heard that's the definitive Roth, will get to it some day.
Lovely words, KB.
Hi, Aliya. Good to see you here. I'm a mushroom man really.

Paul said...

What if you had a double-headed coin? Would you ever get anything done?

TOM J VOWLER said...

After a long day of re-writing, top five things on my mind for tonight:

a pint of Betty Stogs
a pint of Tribute
a pint of Otter Ale
a pint...

You get the pint, I mean point.

Jack Harris said...

OK here's 5 American shorts:

Mark Twain-The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.
Tim O'Brien-The Things they Carried
Terry Southern-The Blood of a Wig.
Raymond Carver-Are these actual miles?
Lorrie Moore-People like that are the only people here:Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk.

And 5 faces I'd never get tired of punching:
Jamie Oliver
Richard Branson
Ant and Dec
and David Cameron

PS Where's the Julian Barnes short story to be found?

TOM J VOWLER said...

Hi Jack

Will look out for those shorts; have only read the Carver.

The Barnes is in his 'A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters'.

I think you'll find Ant and Dec are the same person, so you've only said 4. And surely Nigella ahead of Jamie...

Anna-Marie said...

Top 5 inventions of the 20th/21st century

mobile phone
digital camera
sky plus