WHAT BOOK would Douglas Stuart take to a desert island?

WHAT BOOK would Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart take to a desert island?

  • Douglas Stuart is currently reading Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan 
  • Author would take Maria McCann’s As Meat Loves Salt to a desert island
  • He said Morvern Callar by Alan Warner first gave him the reading bug 

…are you reading now?

I had been waiting for ages to get my hands on a copy of Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan. It’s a beautiful ode to lost youth and male friendship written by one of our sharpest observers of modern masculinity. Told in two different timelines, Tully and James are great childhood pals in 1980s Glasgow and are looking forward to the good times, and a life full of music and travelling to gigs. When we meet them again in the future, they are coming to terms with their own mortality and facing a huge loss.

…would you take to a desert island?

I love Maria McCann’s As Meat Loves Salt, I’ve read it seven or eight times. It’s an immersive, historical love story set at the time of the English Civil War. Jacob Cullen is a disgraced soldier, a violent, possessive man who falls in love with a fellow soldier, Christopher Ferris.

Douglas Stuart (pictured) is currently reading Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan and would take Maria McCann’s As Meat Loves Salt to a desert island

At first everything is great between them, but as England keeps changing their relationship is soon tested. When it becomes clear that Jacob cannot be with his lover, his obsession becomes deadly. This is a real heartbreaker of a book. It’s a historical gay romance, and sort of like my version of Wuthering Heights.

…first gave you the reading bug?

The first book I ever truly fell in love with was Morvern Callar by Alan Warner, set in a west-coast Scottish port town. Morvern is a shelf-stacker in the local supermarket who wakes one morning to find her boyfriend has committed suicide.

She changes the name on his unpublished manuscript and then hides his festering body. When the stolen manuscript becomes a success and the money starts to pour in (ha-ha-ha!), Morvern seizes her chance to escape the run-down town. Published in the Nineties, this was one of the first books that showed me defiant, determined, working-class lives on the page.

Douglas said Morvern Callar by Alan Warner (pictured) first gave him the reading bug

This book will resonate with anyone who knows the sinking feeling of being stuck in a small town/small life. I can relate to Morvern’s hedonism during the bleakest of times: how she longed for the obliteration of drink and parties, or the simple joy of sun on her skin after a life spent in a damp, grey town. It’s a cracking ode to freedom.

…left you cold?

Reading is such a personal pleasure that one man’s Marmite is another man’s Marmite! When I finish a book I hope to feel altered by it in some way. I love to feel something, anything, whether that is grief or anger, or to have my empathy challenged or to have simply walked in another character’s shoes.

All I ask of a book is that it moves me in some way, that some memory of it stays with me. Books that ask for an investment of your time and then don’t affect you leave me feeling really cold. I read too many nice, beautifully written books that I can’t remember reading a month later.

Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart, is out now in paperback (Picador, £8.99)

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