Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In which I take Zooey Glass, Joseph Knecht and Paulina for tapas

Eva apparently had some spare time between reading for about a dozen challenges, or something ridiculous like that, and drew up a her very own reading meme! It's very enjoyable to do, here are my answers (now amended)

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews? When a book gets really popular, like The Time Traveler’s Wife, then I’m sure I don’t want to read it. When I finally got over myself and read it, it was terrific. This is just probably my need to be special, or something.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be? Zooey Glass (Franny & Zooey), Joseph Knecht (The Glass Bead Game), and Paulina (The Winter’s Tale) - Zooey is smart, cute, and very amusing, but a wise ass, Knecht has wisdom but would not be stuffy, and Paulina is another mind of steel and is resourceful to boot. We’d go for a stroll through the Rose Center at the Museum of Natural History (all about astronomy). These three could really hold their own in conversation and although I would try to steer it toward other things, it would inevitably turn to the current U. S. election, but it would not be boring and no one would use the word 'change.' I think we'd follow that with snacks at the Portuguese tapas bar near by, I had considered theater tickets but I think Zooey might get bored (former whiz-kid, you know) and Paulina might be too critical, so maybe just the theater with JK.

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave? I would keep reading great non-boring novels until physically forced, why die when there are good books left to read? Then it would probably have to be something by James Fenimore Cooper, like The Dearslayer, or something…yawn.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it? Troilus and Cressida, it sounds like something you order at a vegetarian restaurant. Many others I’ve hinted at, but only through silence and nodding vigorously.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book? I have known I’ve read a book, really really known I’ve read that book, and re-read it not remembering a damn thing in it. Very sad.

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP) It would really have to depend on the VIP. This actually did happen and I recommended The Palace Thief by Ethan Canin. He admitted afterward that he had been skeptical but it was a big hit!

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with? That’s hard, I love the French language but don’t really love French lit all that much. I’d probably have to go for Russian. I have a dream of learning Russian before I am forced to be bored to death by James Fenimore Cooper – think of all the reading I could do! German is tempting, but I think I’m way more likely to get through Dostoyevski in the original than Thomas Mann.

A mischievious fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread one a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick? You mean other than Franny and Zooey? Actually, that’s an old habit, haven’t done that in quite a few years. The Goldbug Variations – such depth to that novel, there would be endless things to notice, I’m sure.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)? I’ve always been fairly omnivorous, but I’ve been introduced to so many books – Sarah Salway’s Tell Me Everything, the Tales of the Otori series, Joan Didion’s essays, I learned about Darkmans which is waiting on the TBR pile, I learned of The Stolen Child, The Welsh Girl, The Beginning of Spring, the list is pretty long.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free. Yes, a fireplace, a cushy armchair and also a chaise and a comfy sofa, and a puppy who has been trained not to pee on books. Lots of wood paneling, a place for my red wine or my tea pot, note paper, purple pens to write with. Enough shelves – whatever that means, I still don’t know. A view – a forest and some running water in it. I don’t need valuable books per se, I don’t care about books as far as investment in concerned, but I would like a few beautiful editions of favorites. The original Hogarth Press versions of Virginia Woolf would be nice, particularly The Waves. The complete Arden Shakespeare. Lots of old penguin editions of English writers, including all of Iris Murdoch. They can be old as long as they don’t fall apart. A lot of biographies new and old of absolutely everyone. The complete works of Hesse, Cather, Stegner, Chekhov, De Lillo, Sarton, Mann, Dostoyevski, Dickens (in a beautiful edition please with the illustrations), Tolstoy, those gorgeous old Random House volumes of Eugene O’Neill, all of them, the Brontes, lots and lots of poetry, a bunch of those gorgeous french paperbacks - they're bound in cream colored plain paper with red lettering and nothing else. Maybe I'd get the complete Jules Verne if they've published it.

I just have to add one thing. My dream library has to have a spiral staircase, no two - one at each end- going to the second level, because the shelves will have to be that high. And that second level, will loop around on three sides of the room, allowing me access to the higher shelves. I don't really like ladders. It will have lovely metal railing all around it to keep one from falling off, with an art nouveau design, thanks.

I’ll “soft tag” a few people - i.e. I hope you’ll do it but don’t feel pressured. I can’t tag Dewy because I already know she’s going to do it so, Matt, Verbivore, Sarah (of Sarah’s Writing Journal), Sheila,and Lotus Reads.


Eva said...

Now I'm going to have to put Franny and Zooey on my "I really mean it" TBR list. I loved reading your answers-I laughed so hard at the Toilus and Cressida thing. I've never even heard of it! The Palace Thief sounds good as well. Thanks for participating!

Anonymous said...

I love Franny and Zooey and its been a few years since I read it, so about time for a reread.

This was great fun, one of the best set of meme questions I've seen in a while. I was planning to do it anyway when I read it on Eva's site, but will definitely snap to it - thanks for the tag!

I love your description of the perfect library.

Framed said...

My nephew recommended Franny and Zooey so I bought it but after read it yet. You've mentioned some interesting books here that I will have to check out. I'm glad yu liked "the Time Traveler's Wife." I don't avoid really popular books, but I get a touch miffed when I buy a book I think is wonderful and no one else has read yet, and someone else beats me to the review. Isn't that silly?

Anonymous said...

Aren't you becoming my new resource for meme? I'll get on it tomorrow. :)

This meme has been cropping up all over the place. You're the third on the roll that posts about it.

I tend to stay away from anything that tops the bestseller chart. Anything that is all over critics' radar I don't read, at least I'll try to put off as long as I can. Like "The Road."

Your perception of the perfect library almost matches to mine!