Sunday, October 29, 2006

One Book Meme

Stolen from Chekov’s mistress who got it from James Marcus. Oscar Wilde said that talent borrows but genius steals. I don’t know about feeling like a genius but I do know a thing or two about feeling like a thief. So here are my answers:

1. One book that changed your life?

I think the best books change your life in ways that maybe you cannot recognise, but others recognise in you and think that it's just growth. With that as a yardstick, X-men becomes as important as The Color Purple. But if I had to pick only one book it would be James Joyce’s Dubliners. The irony is that I’m such a prude that I didn’t realize what was happening in “The Encounter” until I was 31 years old! The very first thing I ever wrote was a story-by-story response to Dubliners. The Sisters became Disintegration (yep also based on The Cure), A Painful Case became Wallpaper Faces and Two Gallants became Two Gentlemen United for Northside. All awful, trust me. But after that I realized that I was never going to whup this writing thingy. Mind you it would be another seven years before I wrote something else.

2. One book that you have read more than once?

My Name is Red, by Orham Pamuk. Possibly the only book influenced by One Hundred Years of Solitude to pose a serious threat to that book’s much deified place in fiction. Yes it is that good, and yes I knew he was going to win the Nobel this year. Joining Red in lit syndication however are Pride and Prejudice, Song of Solomon, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Lolita.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

A desert island would probably be the perfect place to get into a writer I feel I should know intimately but don’t have a clue about. That would be Philip Roth. So hopefully I would crash land with the new library of congress editions of his books. Given his rep for misanthropy and my future without company, maybe we would be a perfect match

4. One book that made you cry?

Richard Powers's The Time of Our Singing. Call it the anti-Corrections. You root so much for this way-before-their-time interracial family that when they ultimately, inevitably fail, you feel all humanity failed with it. I haven’t been so upset over fictional characters since Bill Sykes scared me for seven years.

5. One book that made you laugh?

Shame, by Salman Rushdie. I didn’t even think I was allowed to laugh with serious literature until this book.

6. One book you wish had been written?
I can't stand memoirs but I would have given anything if one of the four: Mary Shelley, Percy Bycce, Lord Byron and that other woman who I keep forgetting, had written a memoir of that summer they all spent together.

7. One book you wish had never been written?

I could do without Nicholas Sparks and Mitch Alborn, but maybe more Oklahoma kids wouldn't be missing their parents and vice versa had their been no Turner Diaries.

8. One book you are reading currently?

Francine Prose’s Reading like a Writer and Patrick White’s Riders in the Chariot.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

Oh lord where do I start? Maybe I should just say Ulysses and be done with it. And horrifying as it is to believe, I still haven’t read The Great Gatsby.

10. Pass it on