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London Sunday Times / July 25, 1999

For one novelist, Dr Seuss and Cicero have played significant roles

Steven Saylor
photograph: R. Solomon

Steven Saylor: Bibliofile

Which book are you reading now?

In September, the Light Changes: The Short Stories of Andrew Holleran

Who is your favourite novelist?

Mary Renault

Where is your favourite place to read?

The hammock in my garden

Which contemporary author do you most admire?

Gore Vidal

What is your favourite quotation?

Flaubert: “Be regular and bourgeois in your habits, so that you may be wild and profligate in your writing.”

What is your favourite poem?

“Peter Quince at the Clavier” by Wallace Stevens

What is your favourite play?

Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

What is the first book you can remember reading?

The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss

Do you have a comfort book that you reread?

The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

What is the funniest book you have read?

Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay

What is the saddest book you have read?

The Beauty of Men by Andrew Holleran

And the most erotic?

Justine by Lawrence Durrell

What is the most difficult book you have read?

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Name three desert island choices

Clarissa by Samuel Richardson; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and Pliny’s Natural History

Who is your favourite character?

Sherlock Holmes

What is your most overrated book?

Anything by Phillip K Dick

With which character would you most like to have an affair?

Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckenridge

Which book would you like to see filmed?

The Lord of the Rings (with all the new technology)

Which book should have a sequel?

Maurice by E.M. Forster

Which school text did you most enjoy?

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck

Which book changed your life?

The Penguin edition of Cicero’s Murder Trials, translated by Michael Grant

Which book would you make compulsory reading?

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Steven Saylor’s latest thriller set in ancient Rome, Rubicon, is published by Robinson

Copyright 1999 Times Newspapers Ltd.