Sunday, April 03, 2005

Normally I'm not a big fan of memes, but honestly, when am I going to pass up a chance to talk about books? Besides, it was Ryan that poked me with it, and although I don't know him I just love the way he writes and the way he talks about his son.
Also, he said complimentary things about me, and flattery'll get you everywhere in this house.


1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
Possibly I'd be Fahrenheit 451, as it would be a shame for it to be consigned to the flames. But. More likely than not I'd be Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. These days, it's almost a forgotten work, and it's a little sniffed at by Hesse scholars, but it so beautifully captures the disconnect between the needs of the body and the needs of the spirit. It explains the ache that happens in the space right below your heart.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

I'm totally in love with Andy in Generation X. But really, I find myself having crushes on authors. There could be an argument there about the authors as seen through their books being fictional characters, but honestly, I just don't have the energy right now.

3. The last book you bought is:

Anne Sexton's letters. You can tell by her poetry what sort of woman she'd be in her letters, but the fact that she is scatterbrained and needy and wants passionately just to live brings things home a little more.

The last book you read:

The Orestes Plays of Aeschylus. The translation I have is from the sixties and a little shaky, but the Orestia are proof that words can live longer than anything else. Written in the early 400's BC, they're still vibrant and valid today.

What are you currently reading?

Anne Sexton's letters. Still butting my way through Remembrance of Things Past, which is proving to be such a worthwhile experience the further along I get, and I can't wait to get through it and try it again in the new translation.

5. Five books you would take to a deserted island:

Criminy. This question hurts my soul.

1. Mindfield by Gregory Corso. The work of the streetwise angel poet will follow me to my grave. He is the lover and the clown, the best friend and the distant stranger. He's like a radio station tuned to the soul. I could no more survive on a deserted island without this poetry than I could with both hands tied behind my back.

2. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges. I could read the same Borges story every day for a month and be reading a different story each time. My poor brain is always going, but after a Borges it's quiet and tuckered out. His absolute skill with language makes me humble.

3. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I love these characters. I love how they are listlessly self-destructive and I love how they don't ever seem to notice that where they end up and where they started out from are exactly the same place. I hate that this is now an Oprah book and that people are asking book club questions about it. It should be kept under glass unless it's being read, and it should only ever be bound in scarlet and gold.

4. The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche. I know that Nietzsche has a bad rap and all, but I read this for the first time when I was fifteen and it held my hand the way a philosophy book only can at the very beginning and the very end of a person's life. It remains, for me, the best of his work.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I believe in the goodness of people. I know that there are always bad people, and that good people will do bad things, but I believe in the light. And I believe in this book--that it's one of the stones holding up this haphazard American culture.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

1. Sarah. We got the same English degree from the same teachers at the same time, and we've known each other half of our lives, but I'll bet our literary souls live in different houses.
2. Dylan. Because of our mutual love of Flannery O'Connor.
3. Cat, who has spent a lot of time on airplanes reading lately.

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