Continued from part the first
12. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I am ashamed to say that I can’t remember any of my dreams involving any of these things. Have I ever dreamed such a dream? I know not. The closest I can get is this dream I had as a little girl (maybe first grade) where I was Little Red Riding Hood running away from the wolf and I fell down in a gravel pit and couldn’t get back up. I still vividly recall that dream. Just as I can vividly recall the dream I had in high school where George Michael was dancing around the principal from Fame wearing only a loincloth. George Michael was wearing the loincloth, I mean; the principal was fully clothed. Thank goodness for small favors. But that dream has nothing to do with books at all.
13. What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
This is like asking me who my favorite child is. Come on!
14. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
I found William Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom! very difficult. But I chose to write my Modern Literature 410 term paper on it because I knew no one else in the class would touch it and I wouldn’t have to compete for checking out secondary sources in the library. That was the only reason. But I ended up reading it two or three times and once I finally figured out what was going on, it was a pretty awesome book. I’m not particularly keen on reading anything else of his, though. (Except I do enjoy his short stories, which are slightly less…difficult.)
15. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
I don’t know that I’ve seen any obscure Shakespeare plays. I’ve seen very few Shakespeare plays, period. I think I’ve only seen one onstage (as opposed to a movie version), and that was Taming of the Shrew. Not obscure. I’d pay cash money to see Henry IV Part One, though. Especially if the actor playing Hotspur was hot. Ha ha. (But I’m not kidding.)
16. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I’ve certainly read more French authors. I don’t know that I’ve ever finished anything Russian. I keep meaning to. Not that I’ve read or plan to read any of these books in their original language. That would be too hard.
17. Roth or Updike?
I’ve never read either. Oh, no, I’ve read Roth’s “Defender of the Faith.” That was good. So does that make it Roth by default? I don’t know. (Wayne, recommend an Updike book for me.)
18. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
I know even less about these cats than I do about Roth and Updike.
19. Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?
Shakespeare. I like Milton okay. I never really got into Chaucer, probably because I was never forced to take a whole class on him.
20. Austen or Eliot?
Austen. But I like Eliot.
21. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
That I’ve never finished any Russian novels? That would automatically be a huge gap because Russian novels are so thick. Ha ha. Do you know how many good books there are in the world that I will never read? Too many to count, I imagine. Well, I could, but then I wouldn’t have time to read any of them.
22. What is your favorite novel?
It’s really hard to choose just one, don’t you think? I don’t think I will ever love another book the way I love Little Women, so I should just say Little Women. But if we don’t count Little Women, maybe it’s Life of Pi. (I don’t care what you haters say.)
I don’t know. Do musicals count? It seems like they shouldn’t. I’ve always liked that Man of La Mancha. It’s based on Don Quixote, so that’s kind of literary, don’t you think? And Les Miserables was a book once. (Technically, it still is.) But I’ve already decided that musicals don’t count (and anyway, my favorite musical is 1776). Plays are hard for me to judge, since so much depends on the performance, and performances vary. I do really like Henry IV Part One, but how well does it stand on its own without Henry IV Part Two and Henry V? (And Henry V I think is only okay. It’s like the Return of the Jedi of the Henriad, if you ask me.) You know what’s a good play? I Never Sang for My Father. But I may only think that because I like the Gene Hackman movie so well. Who doesn’t love Gene Hackman? Come on.
Poem. Poem. I’m just going to come out and say I don’t read a lot of poetry anymore. I used to, when I was younger. I don’t mean for school either. When I was a teenager, I used to read Nikki Giovanni and Anne Sexton just for giggles. I think that tells you all you need to know about my pretentious teenage ass. Am I implying that people who read poetry are pretentious? No, not at all. It’s just that as I grow older, I make a conscious effort to be less of a poser. Or, to the extent that I still am a poser, I try to be self-conscious about it. When I was studying Yeats, I grew very fond of “Cuchulain Comforted” and “In Tara’s Halls.” I just like the way they sound.
I guess that would have to be George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.”
26. Short story?
Probably Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People.”
27. Work of nonfiction?
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
28. Who is your favorite writer?
29. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
I really can’t think of one. I tend to miss a lot of the over-hyped books, or books I perceive as over-hyped. And being that I’m as far removed from the world of hype as one with an internet connection can be, if I suspect someone’s over-hyped, they’re probably over-hyped. (Not that over-hyped = overrated, but they tend to go hand in hand.) I don’t necessarily skip those authors on purpose, but I just don’t get around to them. And sometimes I’m just not interested.
30. What is your desert island book?
I guess at this point it would be kind of silly not to say Little Women, wouldn’t it? I mean, I’ve read it a dozen times. I could probably read it another dozen. It’s reasonably long, and that’s a must for desert-island reading. Maybe I should bring Ulysses, though. If it were the only book on the island, I’m sure I would read it.
31. And…what are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading three books: Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, and Darkness on the Edge of Town by J. Carson Black.
Mockingbird was a birthday gift from Princess Zurg, and I’m just now getting around to it. It’s pretty interesting for a book about someone who only wrote one book, but Harper Lee was chummy with Truman Capote and worked as his research assistant for In Cold Blood, so that makes a difference. I suppose I am interested in Southern writers in general. It’s a sickness or an eccentricity or something.
I’m enjoying The Imperfectionists, but it’s a library loan and I have to finish it, like, tomorrow, and I’m only 65% of the way through and I’m really too busy doing this blog post to read right now.
Darkness on the Edge of Town I bought on the cheap just because I wanted a psycho killer book for my Kindle, and it looked promising initially, but for a book about a serial killer, it just isn’t that interesting. The writing is okay, but the story is really boring, I’m afraid. Actually, it’s not the story, it’s the main character who’s boring. A humorless female detective–who doesn’t enjoy that sort of thing? Here’s a mistake people make with female protagonists: giving them a boyfriend/husband with whom they have limited interaction and about whom they think so seldom that when he does get mentioned, the reader has forgotten who he is. Why give her a boyfriend/husband at all? To humanize her? Because it doesn’t work. The boyfriend/husband has to be part of the story, or he’s just one more boring thing about your boring character. I would just stop reading the book–if it were a library loan, I’d stop–but I paid for it, so…you know. I feel obligated. It’s silly, though. I’ve certainly made more expensive mistakes than this book. Why can’t I just write it off? I guess I just want to believe that you can get a decent book for $2.99 or less on Kindle. I don’t think I have high standards, but apparently they are higher than I thought they were.