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The Independent Culture
You don't often get a chance to listen to Whitesnake at book events, but at the innovative Filthy MacNasty's the visiting author always gets to choose the music policy for the night.

Despite the prospect of being pummelled by wall-to-wall heavy guitar- based rock, "Vox en Roll" nights at the arty Irish pub are still the grooviest literary soirees in London. This month Filthy's clocks up a further two-dozen bookish names on its vogueish roll call when it celebrates its fifth birthday with readings from the likes of Howard Marks, Will Self, Q, Charles Johnson and Charlie Higson.

First up is Magnus Mills (right), Brixton bus-driver turned much-vaunted gritty comic novelist. And how will Magnus be choosing to musically enhance his reading? Motorhead.

"The obscure stuff's all very well for Desert Island Discs, but I don't think it's right for a pub," says Mills, scurrying back from checking another fact in his Guinness Book of Hit Singles. "I've chosen Slade and Deep Purple because they're my favourites, but they're also the records that would have been on the juke boxes in the Seventies at the time the book's set."

Based on Mills' own experience wielding heavy machinery, The Restraint of Beasts is set among a dopey trio of fence-builders eking out their winter evenings in a succession of miserable pubs. "They are manual labourers, so they only work in daylight hours, which means they are more or less forced to spend the rest of their time in the pub," Mills points out.

When they aren't knocking back the pints of heavy, or winding out the coils of barbed wire, the luckless fencing gang sits festering inside a light-less, heat- less caravan, with a heap of sodden steaming clothes and an under-powered battery-operated cassette-player, grimly stretching out Black Sabbath tapes at half-speed.

"They were great days fencing," muses Mills. "Out in the wilds with a tractor-engine revving, working a 300-lb post-driving hammer, you could sing Led Zeppelin at the top of your voice, and there wasn't a soul to hear you."

Magnus Mills reads at Filthy MacNasty's, 68 Amwell St, Islington, London EC1, (0171-278 9993) 16 Sept, 8.30pm

`The Restraint of Beasts' is published by Flamingo, pounds 9.99

Judith Palmer