Andrew O'Hagan, FRSL is a Scottish novelist and non-fiction author. He is also an Editor at Large of Esquire , London Review of Books & Critic at large for T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Andrew is currently a creative writing fellow at King's College London... (wikipedia)
When you grow up by the sea, you spend a good deal of time looking at the horizon. You wonder what on Earth the waves might bring - and where the sea might deposit you - until one day you know you have lived between two places, the scene of arrival and the point of departure.
I wasn't like other boys. At any rate, I wasn't like my three elder brothers: they excelled at football and they were like other boys, going up to bed each night hugging annuals filled with stories about the glories of Pele and Danny McGrain.
A good nationalism has to depend on a principle of the common people, on myths of a struggling commonality.
Long before the arrival of reality TV - before speed cameras, before recording angels on buses and lampposts - I felt I was living in a country that already knew how to watch itself. It was journalism that held the responsibility for seeing who we were and noticing what we did.
A living museum must surely see itself as a locus of argument. A breathing art institution is not a lockup but a moveable feast.
'Reality' is a notion that journalists take for granted.
Long before I was a writer, when I was just a haphazard reader and a dreamer of stories, I learnt about an influential book by Harold Bloom. 'The Anxiety of Influence', published in 1973 when I was five years old, is taken up with the terrifying influence of poets on each other.
There's a horrible fallacy that exists in the popular discussion of fiction these days: the idea that a successful central character need be 'likeable' or 'sympathetic'. It is surely more important that they be human, no? More crucial that they breathe?
Writing a novel is an act of self-annihilation as much as self-discovery. You can kill whole appetites and flood whole depths while plumbing them, but if you are serious about it you also get to put something into the world that wasn't quite there before.
You'll find that no pride is greater than the pride that comes with being thick. Britain is filled with people who are really proud of their stupidity.