Arts & Life


From one literary giant to another.

We're joined now by our friend Will Grozier, a cab driver in London by profession but a great reader by passion. We talk to him from time to time to get his book recommendations.

Will, so good to be back with you.

Mr. WILL GROZIER (Cab Driver): Good morning, sir. How are you?

SIMON: I'm fine. Thanks.

Mr. GROZIER: It's been far too long.

SIMON: Far too long. And before we get to your books, what do you think of the - what do you think Dmitri Nabokov ought to do, since they're kind of asking for advice?

Mr. GROZIER: Keeping a very simple take on this. If Nabokov couldn't do it, then neither should we. The fundamental question is, was Nabokov capable of destroying this manuscript in his lifetime. Was he physically capable of that act? But, obviously, he was filled with doubts, and so my guess is that if we were to read this in its proper context, he's really saying this is too big a decision to me. I'll leave it to my heir and, obviously, Dmitri is now wrestling with the same problem.

SIMON: Wait, Will, what are you reading in these days?

Mr. GROZIER: Well, what I'm reading right now is - it's a book by a young man called Robert Macfarlane, called "The Wild Places," and it's an excursion into what remains of wilderness in the United Kingdom, which is very much as you can probably imagine. And he has a wonderful prose style. He has a wonderful turned-description and it's really about a journey that he makes across the west and the northern parts of the U.K....

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

Mr. GROZIER: discover what's left of the set of isle. And he talks about writers such as John Faust and a guy rejoices in the name of William Least-Heat Moon, and deriding the U.K. as being paved-over metropolis.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Well.

Mr. GROZIER: And he sets out - and really in the journey to discover if there's any truth in this negativity or whether in fact, you know, the wonderful wilderness used to exist across the whole of this British Isles still exists, and he does. He finds pockets, and he organizes the book into a series of paragraphs that run something like island, valley, moor, forest, cape, summit. And so each piece of wilderness is given its own chapter. And for anyone that's seeking an escape from the winter urban blues, it's a wonderful book to take you in the journey into the countryside.

SIMON: Now, you never read more than just one book at a time, Will?

Mr. GROZIER: No. That's true. I was bogged down in a parallel race between T.C. Boyle's "Drop City…"

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

Mr. GROZIER: …and an English author called Kate Mosse, spelled with an E. What she does in this book "Sepulchre." It essentially informed by the power of the terror and it's following two parallel stories, one in the late 1800s and a modern-day heroine, who happens to be American, so I think that would be very reader-friendly for you folks over there. It's not profound literature, but it's very well-told story and it's a great page turner.

SIMON: We got out some of the reviews. News of the World calls it essentially a meaty "Da Vinci Code."

Mr. GROZIER: Yeah. It was a little bit more to it than that because I know you have reservations over that particular oeuvre but…

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Oeuvre.

Mr. GROZIER: Oeuvre.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. GROZIER: Oeuvre.

SIMON: Oeuvre. Thank you. Yeah.

Mr. GROZIER: Well, oeuvre I think is something that I have picked up from Ron Rosenbaum's rant. I just want to pick up on some of the back jacket notes.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. GROZIER: Sorry. I have to just go back to Robert Macfarlane.

SIMON: Oh, yes, "The Wild Places."

Mr. GROZIER: Our old friend Will Self…

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. GROZIER: …has.

SIMON: Whose novel - a great novel about the London taxi cab driver…

Mr. GROZIER: Yeah. Exactly.

SIMON: …inherits the world. Yes.

Mr. GROZIER: Exactly. He was invited to pronounce. He says a beautifully modulated call from the wild that will ensorcell any urban prisoner wishing to break free. Now, you know, I know this man is a wordsmith par excellence, but ensorcell? I had to go to an online dictionary, and it's a derivative of old French, to bewitch.

SIMON: Oh. Ensorcell, okay.


SIMON: All right. Thank you. Oh, ensorcell - because I'm going to start using that a lot.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Now, you're also reading a T.C. Boyle book, right?

Mr. GROZIER: I have just completed T.C. Boyle's "Drop City." This was a publication in 2003 so it's not that old. But it was set back in the '70s in the heydays of the hippie communes in California.

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

Mr. GROZIER: And it's - the fundamentally the story of a hippie commune that implodes on itself as these things did. They then make the long trek to Alaska to escape prosecution by the Californian authorities. And it's the story of a fur trapper who is living in Alaska; the sparks that fly when these two diametrically opposed elements of society can't come into close contact.

SIMON: What did you find, as the French say, ensorcelling about this book?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GROZIER: Its construction of plot, his attention to detail, his observation of character. I've read one book by him before, "Talk Talk…"

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. GROZIER: …and I thought this a writer worth reading again.

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

Mr. GROZIER: And I was not disappointed.

SIMON: Oh, Will, you are always a source of ensorcellment.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GROZIER: Ensorcell.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Nice to with you again.

Mr. GROZIER: And you, Scott. Hope to see you soon.

SIMON: I hope so. Will Grozier, from London, always a pleasure.

(Soundbite of music)

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Have a good weekend. Ensorcell yourselves. I'm Scott Simon.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from