When invited by The Literary Review to interview a writer of my own choosing I was initially stumped. The ones I long to meet like Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Colette and Emma Goldman are, I firmly believe, lolling about in swansdown-cushioned hammocks wearing floppy straw sunhats to shadow them from the Lord’s eternal sunshine. They perpetually sip Dry Blackthorn cider, look themselves up in Penguin books of quotations, indulge in brilliant chit-chat and wait to greet me when I march through the Pearly Gates.
There are few contemporary writers I care about apart, perhaps, from Auberon Waugh and Bob Dylan. My intellect is stimulated by movies, magazines and the ephemeral ragged poetry of Rock ‘n’ Roll. There is, however, one writer – a journalist – whose work I seek out constantly. When I come across one of her pieces in a newspaper I greet it as I might a dear friend, I buy New Society for her book reviews and when I spot her byline in The Observer I snuggle contentedly back in bed to read her with my cup of tea. In a dentist’s waiting room I once fell off a chair with laughing at a piece by her in Punch and her style sparkles like diamonds amongst the sludge of spot-removal ads and orgasm-advice contained in Women’s magazines. Her name is Sally Vincent.
I believe that writers should not be required to discuss their private lives. Cora Sandel, the Norwegian novelist once said: ‘I have always been of the opinion that no more needs to be expected of an author than that they should write well’. I agree with this and see no