JJ Connolly is a writer whose first novel,

the crtically acclaimed Layer Cake, is published

by Duckback at #5.99

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1. Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five.

I hate seeing Mr Vonnegut's books in the science fiction sections of bookshops because he's more about irony and satire.

2. Gunter Grass: Tin Drum.

A boy develops a unique talent to conjure up intense emotion on a tin drum. Very weird, very strange, very German. Surreal in the truest sense of the word.

3. Mikal Gilmore: Shot Through The Heart.

Gary Gilmore's kid brother charts the dysfunctional genealogy that resulted in Gary brutally killing two innocent people and being executed at his own insistence. Fascinating and moving.

4. Jimmy Boyle: A Sense Of Freedom.

I first read this at the age of 18 and was very impressed with Jimmy's ability to dominate with violence. Now I can acknowledge his pain and struggle.

5. Irvine Welsh: Trainspotting.

I was encouraged rather than influenced by this book. He gets bolder as the book progresses, dropping rules but embracing craft.