LITERARY SPIRITS

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Over the past two years, Filthy MacNasty's has acquired a reputation for slaking the thirst of those who like their literary readings to be as lacking in sobriety as possible. The Clerkenwell whiskey cafe plays host to Vox 'n' Roll, a twice-weekly platform for writers from around the world. It isn't just its boozy ambience that makes similar, bookshop- based events seem churchmouse quiet but the simple (and surprisingly uncopied) concept: let the writers play some of their favourite music while they catch their breath. As a result, the brainchild of landlord Gerry O'Boyle and former music promoter Richard Thomas has become not only an index to who's who in contemporary fiction (Self, Hornby, AL Kennedy etc) but also a chart of who's got what in their stacks back home.

When James "mad dog" Ellroy read there recently, the audience queued for his autograph and his big band play-list (Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton and Artie Shaw, since you asked). According to Thomas, the two most popular musicians that writers call on in their hour of need are Dylan and Costello - but the Chemical Brothers are gaining ground fast.

Anyone turning up on Tuesday, however, will be in for a surprise. This week's desert island author is the courtroom drama king John Lescroart (right), who will be strumming along to a few of his own tunes. "Rocky countryish" is how he describes them, "with lyrics you can understand, some place near Huey Lewis or the Eagles". The best-selling San Franciscan (who joins Danielle Steel, Richard North Patterson and Armistead Maupin in the city's hall of fame) pursued ambitions to become a singer-songwriter until the age of 30, when he finally decided no one was listening.

A further 15 years of slog along the fiction trail finally paid off - the success of 1994's The Thirteenth Juror resulted in a $2.5m deal for his next two, Guilt and the forthcoming The Mercy Rule. His novels explore the fuzzy ethical edges of stark crimes - in the case of Guilt, uxoricide; with The Mercy Rule, patricide. Whether he should be allowed to sing live is up to you the jury.

68 Amwell St, London, EC1 (info: 0171-609-2543) 8.30pm, Tues

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