Literary influences explored...
Frank Turner

The past ten years have completely changed Frank Turner's life.

Turning solo, the singer sought out his folk roots, delivering album after album of anthemic songwriting which seemed to cut through to an enormously broad audience.

New album 'Positive Songs For Negative People' will be released this August, a record Turner himself bills as "my definitive statement, a summation of the first five records."

Ahead of this, Clash tracked down Frank Turner to ask him a few questions about his literary tastes and influences.

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What is your favourite book and why?
Currently 'Cultural Amnesia' by Clive James. I'm a massive fan of James, and this book in particular blew my mind, I felt like I'd just woken up from a long sleep when I finished it. A masterpiece.

What other authors do you like?
I'm into a lot of travel literature - Paul Theroux, Robert MacFarlane, W G Sebald, Kapuscinski and so on. I've recently been reading Bruce Chatwin on Patagonia. Also history books, particularl central European stuff - Snyder, Appelbaum and so on.

What draws you to certain books?
I like books that take me out of myself and teach me something I didn't know.

Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
I think 'Fugitive Pieces' by Ann Michaels is one of the most remarkable novels I've ever read, and it doesn't seem to be well know. That said, I don't consider myself nearly well-versed enough in literature to know what is and isn't lost, per se.

Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
I'm always paying attention to use of language, so on that level, I suppose so. Clive James' taste for aphorism has certainly made an impact of late.

What are you reading at the moment?
Right now I'm reading Robert Conquest's 'The Great Terror', and I just finished Rex from Pantera's memoirs. I like to mix it up.

What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
I used to read Wilbur Smith novels when I was a kid, that's probably the first "proper" book I read.

Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
Yes, though I always liked to buy books if I can. I'm a hoarder.

Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn't finish?
I read economic theory from time to time, and there have been some of those that have defeated me. Ludwig Von Mises, I'm sorry, I just couldn't stomach all 800 pages.

Do you read book reviews?
Sometimes, yes.

Would you ever re-read the same book?
Very much so. I've read 'Catch 22' many times. Great prose bears re-reading.

Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
Yossarian perhaps, he's one of my literary heros. I suppose I could mention Sal Paradise, but Kerouac is a little overdone.

Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
Occasionally I read more than one, as long as they're stylistically far apart. But in general I prefer to concentrate.

Is there an author / poet you would like to collaborate with?
I have met and hung out with Robert MacFarlane actually, he's a wonderful guy and an amazing writer. I want to know his secrets.

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'Positive Songs For Negative People' will be released on August 7th.

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