This week’s Inheritance Books are from Gary Twynam, another man who writes romance! (That’s two in the space of a few weeks. There must be something in the ether. If I’d known I’d have had a week of just male romance writers!) Anyway, enough from me. Let’s meet Gary.
Hi Gary, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please, tell us a bit about yourself.
I recently had a debut novel published by Carina at the grand old age of 51, an age when you think about legacy more than is perhaps healthy. So, I was keen to have a go at “Inheritance Books”, but I suspect not for obvious reasons.
For starters, I didn’t grow up in a house with books. It wouldn’t be true to say we were entirely without books. It was almost worse. My grandad had a collection of Reader’s Digest hardbacks. Each book contained the abridged version of a few novels. This suited him. He used to say “I only want the story, who cares about the rest?” This didn’t work so well as far as I was concerned. Aged 14, a friend told me about a particular steamy scene in Jaws. I ran home excited, knowing that a copy was on my grandad’s shelves. And there it was but, of course, the sex scene wasn’t.
I read Jaws in the full length version (when I was in my late teens). I think I know the scene you mean. Moving swiftly on, which books have you inherited from generations above?
My own book world changed, aged 15, when my mother took me to a jumble sale/fête at her work. I worked on the book stall, and snapped up everything there by Agatha Christie, Hammond Innes and Victor Canning, to add to my burgeoning collection. I also brought home all the unsold books. This included a battered old copy of TS Eliot’s Collected Poems (to 1935). Some of the pages were uncut. The spine was hanging off. One day when bored I opened it, read the Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, understood none of it and was hooked for ever more on literature in
general and poetry in particular. In the following three years I read much of 20th Century Western Literature and then went off to university to further my knowledge. I’ve always believed the book was bequeathed to me by some divine serendipity, except when I think of how miserable all that existentialism made me, when I consider suing Faber & Faber.
Jumble sales are brilliant places to discover new things. Like second hand bookshops, but cheaper and even more random. Which book would you leave to generations below?
The other thing is I have no children. This branch-line of my family name ends with me. I don’t regret that, but I do sometimes wonder what I’m going to do with the thousands of books I’ve gathered around me in the years since I read TS Eliot. They’ve been a comfort and joy all these years and I have a recurring dread-thought where I die suddenly and my wife sells them off wholesale to some dodgy dealer or other. In better moods I daydream of a mini version of World Book Night whereby I give them away one at a time to eager young adults looking for inspiration.
If there was one book I would have liked to have given as an inheritance to my own child, I’d forego TS Eliot (for every 1 of us blessed by his voice there’s 999 others deaf to it, “though Cats is all right”).
Instead, I’d settle on Spike Milligan’s Silly Verse For Kids. This was the one book I owned as a young child. It was a library book, like all the others. I read it again and again, over and over. I also drew all over it, and ripped it to pieces, bit by bit. So much to my mother’s shame that she never returned it to the library. I still have it. I also have a more pristine original copy and, in a parallel universe somewhere, a child would be scribbling all over it.
A great choice. I’m not blessed with the poetry instinct, but I love a bit of silly verse. I love the idea of a child in a parallel universe.
Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us Gary. All the best with your novel.