"Writing is a stamina game," he says. "Talent only accounts for two per cent; the rest is keeping your eyes and ears open so you can learn from people better than yourself."
Despite this show of modesty, he stops short of describing himself as unworthy because he has worked at his writing in a way that most of those "who say they have a book inside them" have not. Does he ever suffer self-doubt? He thinks for a minute: "I suffer from not knowing that I'm doing the best I can."
The apparently awesome confidence is aided, of course, by good looks. I could describe him but he does the job himself when introducing Gabriel, the son of a Russian mother in Self Help, a man with a Mediterranean complexion who wears jeans with a fine shirt "as though he has not been able to make up his mind who he really is", has "liquid dark eyes" and black hair "kicked and kinked at the ends, not so much a style as a lack of one, stylishly passing itself off".
After only a few minutes of Docx's erudite literary small talk, it could also be said that, like Gabriel, he has "the figure of someone thin through restlessness, through exercise of the mind rather than the body".