Many years ago I started reading James Herbert's The Ghosts of Sleath, and was blown away by the evocativeness of that opening scene, in which he describes an early morning funeral in an idyllic countryside setting. I used to think it was the epitome of good prose and would turn to it continually whenever I needed inspiration. Now before anyone jumps down my throat, let me just say that it still is a wonderful piece of writing, but some years later I started to develop an interest in writers from the beat generation, and later still gonzo, and I was struck by how fresh and new this style of writing felt - a style which actually predated my regular intake at the time by thirty-odd years. I was amazed by the way these writers evoked similar feelings in me, with a fraction of the words, such as using a simple 'It was raining' where 'modern' writers would babble on for half a page, describing something with which we are all very familiar anyway. I try to emulate this 'beat generation' style in my own writing, not in a copy-cat way, but because it's what I read, it's what I like, and it's what I admire. I fail miserably, as I try to combine its traits with my own voice and a style which, out of habit, continually slips into a stale and conventional pattern. So, have your tastes changed dramatically? If so, how?