Interview with Sam Thompson

Author of Communion Town discusses favourite reads from sad Shakespeare endings to bizarre, inimitable tales

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Interview with Sam Thompson

Sam Thompson has a go at this issue’s debut author Q&A. His first book is a meditation on a place through very different eyes.

Give us five words to describe Communion Town?

Many stories, one strange city.

Name one author who should be more famous than they are now?

Robert Aickman. He’s sometimes described as a writer of ghost stories, but his work is uncategorisable: ambiguous, surreal, stylishly creepy and permanently disturbing.

What was the first book you read?

I can’t remember, but Where The Wild Things Are was one of the first to make a big impression, in the same way that A Wizard of Earthsea and Lord of the Flies did later on.

What was the last book you read?

The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz, a Polish art teacher who was murdered by a Gestapo officer in 1942. He wrote bizarre, inimitable tales which transform his family life into a crazy private mythology.

Which book makes you cry?

The ending of The Winter’s Tale really gets to me. For a moment Shakespeare makes you feel that you could recover everything you’ve lost and undo every bad decision you ever made. And then he takes it away again.

Which book makes you laugh?

Anything by Flann O’Brien, because nobody does bitter sarcasm and eloquent rage like he does. Also the Molesworth books, for reasons that any fule kno.

Which dead author do you wish was still alive today?

David Foster Wallace. We needed him, and we’ll never know what we lost when he died.

What plans do you have for book number two?

I’m working on another novel, and my plan is not to talk about it until it’s finished. You have to be a bit furtive.

Communion Town is published by Fourth Estate on Thu 5 Jul.

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