By James Joyce
There are some books that are so important you don't even notice them anymore; they're just part of the way you think. I am always surprised to see how much my own work is influenced by James Joyce—not least because it seems so presumptuous. But it's not something I can help, I'm afraid. Dubliners seemed to me to be about members of my own extended family, though it was written so long ago. A Portrait of the Artist is the founding myth for all Irish writers. Stephen Dedalus decides that the only thing to do with Ireland is to leave it, and then write about it. This, effectively, is what Irish writers still do—in our heads at least, if not on an actual airplane. It is also, still, a really good book about growing up and leaving home.