As Picador celebrates its fortieth anniversary the Picador team are celebrating working for the finest imprint in literary London. I haven’t been at Picador for forty years, of course, but in the spirit of The Picador Book of 40 here are twenty of the most memorable titles I’ve read, not read, or been involved with.
1. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis. So controversial I wasn’t allowed to work on it. I met the author years later. He was charming.
2. The Unfortunates, B. S. Johnson. A book in a box, with a first and last chapter fixed, but the other chapters readable in any order.
3. The Collected Works of Bruno Schulz. An enormous and very beautiful full-colour volume in crown quarto.
4. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson. Still the funniest book I’ve read since 1988.
6. Man Overboard, Tim Binding. A day spent with the author in his writing cabin in his country village in Kent, with a very good lunch.
7. Cliffhanger: the Other Text, T. J. Middleton. The original, unedited text, available as an e-original only. Conceived over a very good lunch.
8. Cultural Amnesia, Clive James. Years in the making; an indispensable guide.
9. China Dreams, Sid Smith. Says more with less than almost any other novel I’ve read.
10. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst. Says more with more than almost any other novel I’ve read.
11. The Retreat, Will Hobson, translating Patrick Rambaud. A harrowing account of the retreat from Moscow. Introduced me to unborn porpoise-skin as a helmet covering.
12. My Holidays, Sylvia Smith. Naif or faux-naif? The jury is still out.
13. Electricity, Ray Robinson. The novel of the year for 2006.
14. The Wah-Wah Diaries, Richard E. Grant. His compelling account of making his startling and deeply moving autobiographical film. We saw the film.
15. Mirrors of the Unseen, Jason Elliot. A unique account of Iran by a fascinating author who knows it intimately.
16. Germania, Simon Winder. A unique account of Germany by a fascinating author who knows it intimately.
17. Rituals of Love, Ted Polhemus. A work so advanced I wasn’t allowed to read it.
18. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams. Shortly after I joined, it needed its umpteenth reprint. I remembered a mistaken comma I’d noticed when I was thirteen. It had been bothering me ever since. Now was my chance to correct it. I opened the reprint copy. It had already been corrected.
19. Mr Foote’s Other Leg. The biography of the most famous one-legged Georgian actor and comic you’ve never heard of.
20. Bridget Jones’s Diary. The book that started it all. I met the author; she wore very fine boots.
Learn more about Picador's history in this select chronology