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Without question, the book that has most influenced my life has been Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs. I was astonished by the outrageous pot-head humour: crazy ideas taken way beyond their normal limits. The book was a savage indictment of American racism and consumerism, it dealt with the corruption, graft and lies of politicians with Swiftian humour. I had never read anything like, then or since.

Tom Stoppard: The true voice of old England

Plays, politics and patriotism: Tom Stoppard's search for meaning in an uncertain present always takes him back into the past. The playwright, now garlanded with an international award, talks to Ciar Byrne

You write the reviews: Waiting for Godot, Library Theatre, Manchester

Samuel Beckett's subtitle for Waiting for Godot is "a tragicomedy", and that is how Chris Honer, the director of this production, plays it. In the past 50 years, comedians from Bert Lahr and Zero Mostel to Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson have essayed the roles of Vladimir and Estragon, but in his choice of the versatile character actors David Fielder and George Costigan, Honer acknowledges one of the very few hints Beckett ever provided about his enigmatic play.

2006: From Beckett to Betjeman - a bumper crop of anniversaries

Ian Irvine surveys the year's anniversaries: births, deaths and a play that changed theatre for ever

Miles Kington: The overwhelming drama of Test cricket

Viewers e-mailed Richie Benaud to say the tension was so unbearable that they had to leave the room

The Week In Arts: Waiting for Godot

SIR PETER Hall's desire to stage Waiting for Godot at the Arts Theatre in London this autumn is understandable. He wants to mark the 50th anniversary of his staging the premiere of Samuel Beckett's masterpiece. But his wish has been ruined by the Barbican Theatre and the Beckett estate which have jointly forbidden it, as the Barbican is mounting its own version next year.

Lucia Joyce: to dance in the Wake, by Carol Loeb Shloss

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Calico, Duke of York's Theatre, London

Joyce's tragedy is full of cruel jokes but looks topsy-turvy

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Don Paterson on Emil Cioran's 'The Trouble With Being Born'

The man who lived in fear

How one tutor faced his obsessional disorder by writing about it

Passed/Failed: An Education in the Life of Hanif Kureishi, whose Screenplays Include My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid

Hanif Kureishi's latest novel, `Intimacy', is currently being filmed. `Midnight All Day', his collection of short stories, is out now

Obituary: Dougald McMillan

DOUGALD MCMILLAN was one of the most eccentric, lovable and talented of American literary scholars, but his output was small due to his penchant for getting involved in activities that were a total waste of his talents and, which came to the same thing, to his inability to decide his priorities.

Books: From clown to cinematic icon

Jacques Tati by David Bellos Harvill pounds 25

Obituary: Eric Kahane

ERIC KAHANE was the younger of the two sons of Jack Kahane, an Englishman who went to Paris after the First World War and started the notorious Obelisk Press, which published in English many authors banned in Britain, including Henry Miller, Cyril Connolly, Norman Douglas, Frank Harris, Lawrence Durrell and Cecil Barr (his pen name for himself).

What a cock up!

Perhaps it was down to his publishers, or the critics, or perhaps it was because he was ahead of his time. But someone, somewhere made a huge mistake in consigning BS Johnson (right) to the remainder bin of history. Here Jonathan Coe (inset), author of What a Carve Up! and a lifelong fan, restores the novelist, poet, film-maker, football reporter and fighter to his rightful place alongside the great and eccentric figures of post-war literature
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