Nathan Penlington’s top cultural picks

June 6, 2014, Article by Tom in Books

Nathan Penlington, author of THE BOY IN THE BOOK and one of the masterminds behind the Choose Your Own Documentary show, picks some of his cultural highlights…

Band: I’m obsessed by the music of Jonathan Richman – his funny, melancholic, observational, wry and musically diverse songs are something I can’t get enough of.

Artist: I love the almost anonymous work of early circus and sideshow poster and banner artists. Their pre-photographic re-imagination of reality is glorious and close to my heart.

Film: Harold & Maude – a love story between two people fifty-nine years apart, full of heart, humour and hearses. Brothers of the Head is also a stunning film, which recounts how conjoined twin brothers become figureheads for the burgeoning punk scene.

Book: Obviously my favourite Choose Your Own Adventure – #21 Hyperspace by Edward Packard. I also collect anything that experiments with form and format, of which the very much underrated Woman’s World by Graham Rawle is clever in so many ways. Memoirs of a Sword Swallower by Daniel P. Mannix is an exceptional peak through the gap in the back of a sideshow tent, and Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay proves human folly is a constant throughout the ages.

Writer: I’m a huge fan of J G Ballard, Richard Brautigan, Rikki Ducornet, Edward Packard and Kurt Vonnegut.

Drink: I drink too much tea. Nothing fancy, straight, with milk. I should have kept a tally while writing The Boy in the Book, but I’ve learnt not to indulge all my obsessive tendencies. I also drink a lot of ginger beer, the best of which is definitely Bundaberg.

Place/holiday destination: I love London, and I have since I was a kid – I love the flow and change, the diversity and the constant surprise. My last enforced holiday was at Prendergast Caravan Park in south west Wales – a stunning coastline designed for imaginary adventures.

Team and sport: I have an intense disinterest in nearly all sports, apart from one, the greatest sport of all – darts. Every January I hold a nine-day World Darts Championship in miniature called Mini-Lakeside, it is an epic celebration of all that is great about darts – the food, the fancy dress, the drink and the maths. My favourite real life player without question is Tony ‘Silverback’ O’Shea, a lovable ambassador for the sport.

Food: I have an admission to make here. I eat Yorkshire Pudding at least four or five times a week. Something I eat much less often, but no less amazing, are battered chips. Ok, you can judge me now.

Read Nathan’s blog on taking CYOD to the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.