Yesterday I had the privilege of a sit-down discussion with two of the most formidable English writers working today: Gordon Burn and David Peace, who share some obvious affinities in subject matter (Peter Sutcliffe for one - the subject of Burn's Somebody's Husband, Somebody's Son and the shadow-stimulus for David's 'Red Riding Quartet' of 1974, 1977, 1980, and 1983. Football, for another - 2006 was a red-letter year for writing in this field thanks to Gordon's Best and Edwards and David's The Damned United.) But by the time your estimation factors in the further range of Gordon's four novels (Alma Cogan, Fullalove, North of England Home Service and Born Yesterday) alongside his studies of the art world that include a book with Damien Hirst - and then you think about David's GB84, that occult history of the 84-85 Miners Strike, and then the fictional accounting of post-war Japan that he has now embarked upon, beginning with Tokyo Year Zero - and you have to consider it a blazing miracle that England can boast writers such as these. The symposium I had with them was arranged by Esquire magazine and was concerned primarily with crime and other forms of aberrant true-life behaviour, and the extent to which they make fitting inspiration for books. The resultant article should appear in the August issue (i.e. late July). But if you're stuck for reading beforehand, get yourself into some Burn and some Peace. If you've already read one or two do yourself a favour and read the lot.