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The Book According to . . . Isla Dewar

PART OF THE Feast Your Eyes ISSUE

‘I’m not sure that I agree that youth is wasted on the young, but I do think it a pity that when you’re young you’re not old enough to enjoy it.’

A new Isla Dewar novel is always welcome news to BooksfromScotland, and with the release of her latest, A Day Like Any Other, we decided to catch up with her to find out about her favourite books.

 

A Day Like Any Other
By Isla Dewar
Published by Polygon

 

The book as memory – what is your first memory of books and reading?

Sitting squeezed between the living room wall and the back of the sofa, just me and Enid Blyton. The room smelled of lavender polish and the soup my mother was cooking and I was enthralled. Here were characters that had a secret island, a rowboat and a dog I lusted after. I also didn’t like Julian and wasn’t keen on Uncle Quentin so the book had everything. People I loved people I didn’t love and an adventure. Oh my. Later I discovered Robert Louis Stevenson and Kidnapped and my reading life was never the same again. I loved that man and everything he wrote. Still do.

 

Your book as your work – tell us about your latest book A Day Like Any Other. Is there something particular you’re setting out to explore?

I’m not sure that I agree that youth is wasted on the young, but I do think it a pity that when you’re young you’re not old enough to enjoy it. I wrote about two women, one always loved and one not. I wrote about doubting the past, loving it and wanting it back to do it all again, only better. I made my characters reminisce and blush. How stupid we all are sometimes. And life always has a surprise or two no matter how old you are.

 

Your book as object – what is your favourite beautiful book?

I have a few. A copy of Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit given to me by a beloved friend years ago, how bashed and thumbed it is. I also have an illustrated copy of Laurie Lee’s Cider With Rosie.  It is a lovely thing. My husband found it in a charity shop years ago. I treasure it.

 

Your book as inspiration – what is your favourite book that has informed how you see yourself?

For a while I wanted to be Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Of course before that I wanted to be Jo in Little Women. I also wanted to be Sam Spade. I hugely admire Karen Blixen in Out of Africa. But in truth though I love to write funny stories I am a bit of a doomster. I have a dark side. I am gloomy. A born pessimist. I am Winnie the Pooh’s Eeyore.

 

Your book as relationship – what is your favourite book that has bonded you with someone else?

I always though writing should be sparse, too the point until I read T.C. Boyle’s Water Music. He just threw words at me and I loved it. I felt he was saying why use one hundred words when fourteen thousand will do? I do love words. I was halfway through reading when I realised how much my beloved would love it too. So I gave it to him. He flies at life talking and talking. Sometimes takes me along. What a ride it can be. Often we don’t even have to leave the house.

 

Your book as entertainment – what is your favourite rattling good read?

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Always that. Can’t say how often I’ve read it.

 

Your book as destination – what is your favourite book set in a place you’ve never been?

I loved The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville. I love all her books. But this one is so sensitive and beautiful and funny I hold it dear. I have bought many copies and given it to many people. It is set in Australia, New South Wales in a small town. And tells us that small towns are small towns wherever they are. Filled with gossip, hate, love, stupidity, friendship and comfort. It is a lovely book about two awkward people. I wept and I cringed.

 

Your book as the future – what are you looking forward to reading next?

Hadley Freeman’s House of Glass is on my living room table and beckoning.

 

A Day Like Any Other by Isla Dewar is published by Polygon, priced £8.99

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