The author, most recently, of the novel “Bowlaway” prefers physical books for the sense of accomplishment: “I like to hold the chunk of remaining book as I read; I like to feel it diminish.”
What books are on your nightstand?
I live with my ball-and-chain, Edward Carey, and our two kids in a bungalow with limited shelf space; many of our books are in our campus offices. The towers of books around and upon my nightstand are bigger than the nightstand itself. On, adjacent, beneath: I am reading Elisa Gabbert’s collection of essays, “The Word Pretty.” I love Gabbert’s sentences, whether in poetry or prose, and also the beauty of her ideas. The book itself is a delightful object, pocket-size and portable.
Also: Natalia Sylvester’s “Everyone Knows You Go Home” — I heard her read from the first chapter earlier this year and loved it. The great Shelley Jackson’s new novel, “Riddance,” which I’m looking forward to losing myself to entirely. My friend Paige Williams’s “The Dinosaur Artist,” which looks amazing and full of intrigue — I’ve been looking forward to her first book as long as I’ve known her. A trio of galleys of first novels by writers I admire, all coming out this year: “Mostly Dead Things,” by Kristen Arnett; “Tears of the Trufflepig,” by Fernando Flores; and “The Old Drift,” by Namwali Serpell.
Finally, a letterpress broadside of a poem, “Tender Mercies,” by D. A. Powell, from his brilliant book “Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys,” which is there for safekeeping till I take it to get framed. That’s between cardboard propped up behind the table, but I think it helps me sleep better.
What do you read when you’re working on a book? And what kind of reading do you avoid while writing?
I read copiously when I’m working: novels when I’m working on a novel, stories when I work on stories. The only thing I avoid are books by certain prose stylists whom I love and find infectious: Raymond Chandler, Grace Paley, Allan Gurganus. When I’m stuck the surest jolt out of my rut is poetry: I find Berryman, Bishop and Brenda Shaughnessy particularly inspiring.
What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?
Susan Orlean’s “The Library Book” is full of fascinating facts, but the one that has stuck with me is that the 1986 fire at Central Library in Los Angeles was so hot, it was colorless: “You could look right through it, as if it were a sheet of glass.”
How do you like to read? Paper or electronic? One book at a time or simultaneously? Morning or night?
I own an e-reader, which I use exclusively to read the work of my students. For books, I like a book: durable and portable. I’m the sort of impatient reader who always wants to know how many more pages in the book, the chapter, the section, and I like to hold the chunk of remaining book as I read; I like to feel it diminish. Lately I read more than one book at a time but I don’t feel good about it.
How do you organize your books?
My office is always in disarray, but my books are in order. My fiction is alphabetical. I’m a lapsed public librarian, and I can’t imagine it any other way. My nonfiction is broken up into the following categories: memoir, essays, poetry, plays, biographies of comedians, biographies of other Hollywood types, comic books/strips/graphic novels, assorted books about Elvis Presley, art books, assorted books about tattoos, cunningly small books, burdensomely large books. Then there are the piles, which are arranged in three categories: shelve, donate, and books I will never read again and don’t really want but which are inscribed to me by the author.
What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
I have a lot of oddball books on my shelves, many of them presents from my brother, Harry, including a book of candy recipes written by the comedian ZaSu Pitts.
Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite antihero or villain?
The Wolf in Catherine Storr’s “Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf” is a spectacular character, intent on devouring Polly but always outsmarted. I suppose he is stupid, but mostly he’s just driven by hunger. Every time I reread it I’m struck by how dear and awful and filled with carnal longing he is. New York Review Books reprinted all the Polly and the Wolf stories recently; my children love them. I feel a kinship with the Wolf, who wants things and is so filled with intentions even he cannot tell whether those intentions are good or bad.
What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?
I grew up in old house whose ceiling was mostly held up by bookcases built by my father, or perhaps the bookcases were kept upright by the house. The books I remember reading fit mostly into four categories: books my parents loved — Nora Ephron’s “Crazy Salad”; Calvin Trillin’s “Alice, Let’s Eat”; a quantity of Wodehouse (my father loved Wodehouse though my mother didn’t); creepy books of all sorts, including “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and New England ghost stories; reference books, both ordinary (Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable) and outré (The People’s Almanac, The Book of Lists). Comic books, which belonged to my brother: I particularly loved an enormous anthology of Superman comic books, and still prefer the surreality of that world to any other superhero’s — Lois Lane with a cat’s head! The Bizarro World! Jimmy Olsen as the Turtle Boy of Metropolis! — but I also loved old collections of Crockett Johnson’s “Barnaby”, Walt Kelly’s “Pogo,” Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner” and a wide variety of Harvey comic books (particularly Little Dot and Little Lotta) bought at Mac’s Smoke Shop down the street.
If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
The first draft of his ghostwritten prison memoir, in his cell. Totally fine if it’s in bullet point form.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Anyone who’s met me knows these two things: I don’t believe writers should have the right to free assembly, and I will do nearly anything to avoid meeting my literary heroes. (Recently I sidestepped a chance to meet Edward P. Jones, probably my favorite living writer.) Myself, I’m not such a great conversationalist, so I’d like to invite people for their company. I’ve always been fond of Lord Timothy Dexter, author of “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones, or Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress,” who in his second edition printed a page of punctuation for readers who felt there wasn’t enough in the body of the book. Then Julia Child, who was a wonderful writer and perhaps would put to use her other skills — culinary, conversational — as well. Kathleen Hale, the author and illustrator of the Orlando the Marmalade Cat books, whose splendid memoir “A Slender Reputation” makes me think she’d be a good dinner guest. Finally, I’d give my own place at the table to my mother, Natalie Jacobson McCracken, who died in November, a fine writer who loved a good party and would gleefully take my seat. Also, I’m going to be honest, and I know I’m stretching the guest list, but I would invite Kelly Link, who is not only a thrillingly great writer and charming and present and hilarious and an author whose name I shamelessly drop to consistently fine effect, but also is to date the only person who has mentioned me in a By the Book. Fair’s fair. Give her Lord Dexter’s seat. (But only if the dinner doesn’t interfere with her finishing her novel.)
Whom would you want to write your life story?
I don’t even like having my photograph taken. If somebody must write my life story, let it be in rebus form.
How do you decide what to read next? Is it reviews, word-of-mouth, books by friends, books for research? Does it depend on mood or do you plot in advance?
When I was a public librarian, I worked in circulation, so I saw all the new books coming back from their travels. That’s how I first heard of Edwidge Danticat: Somebody returned “Breath, Eyes, Memory,” it looked good, I read it and discovered the work of one of the great writers of the world by mere happenstance. I’m always chasing that thrill. Twitter comes close. I’m on Twitter entirely too much, and I hear about a lot of books there first — I just got a brilliant looking book from Jane Rawson, an Australian author, called “From the Wreck,” about a man who survives a shipwreck. Plus there’s a sea monster. I don’t think it has an American publisher yet; I ordered it from Australia. I never would have heard of it except through Twitter.
What do you plan to read next?
“Sketchtasy,” by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, whose memoir “The End of San Francisco” I loved. This is a novel that takes place in Boston, my own hometown.B:
买码输了搞笑图片【当】【即】，【三】【头】【火】【蛟】【拿】【起】【筷】【子】【便】【吃】【了】【起】【来】，“【真】【香】，【真】【好】【吃】。” 【可】【是】【没】【吃】【两】【口】，【三】【头】【火】【蛟】【突】【然】【惊】【觉】【起】【来】。 【方】【才】【他】【一】【直】【留】【意】【着】【城】【主】【府】【内】【有】【没】【有】【异】【常】，【可】【是】【现】【在】【看】【这】【个】【娇】【儿】【就】【有】【些】【不】【对】【劲】。 【昨】【晚】【那】【么】【晚】，【她】【怎】【么】【一】【个】【人】【在】【街】【上】【游】【荡】？【而】【且】【又】【正】【好】【在】【城】【主】【府】【门】【口】？ 【当】【时】【那】【道】【香】【气】，【明】【显】【有】【些】【不】【正】【常】。 【而】【且】，【她】
“【唉】？!”【咕】【哒】【子】【和】【玛】【修】【皆】【是】【发】【出】【了】【一】【声】【惊】【叹】，【随】【后】【冷】【静】【了】【下】【来】。 【貌】【似】【达】【芬】【奇】【说】【的】【一】【点】【都】【不】【错】【唉】 “【那】【我】【们】【需】【要】【离】【开】【吗】？”【咕】【哒】【子】【问】【道】。 【毕】【竟】【那】【些】【难】【民】【们】【已】【经】【离】【开】【了】，【而】【剩】【下】【的】【这】【两】【位】【骑】【士】【的】【战】【斗】【她】【们】【又】【插】【不】【进】【去】【手】，【貌】【似】【只】【剩】【下】“【离】【开】”【这】【一】【个】【答】【案】【了】。 【然】【而】【达】【芬】【奇】【却】【微】【笑】【着】【摇】【了】【摇】【头】。
【郑】【丰】【谷】【家】【来】【了】【个】【老】【好】【看】【的】【俊】【俏】【公】【子】，【带】【着】【十】【几】【个】【侍】【卫】【随】【从】，【浩】【浩】【荡】【荡】【的】【可】【威】【风】【了】！ 【就】【是】【有】【点】【凶】，【一】【来】【就】【把】【郑】【丰】【年】【家】【的】【儿】【媳】【妇】【给】【打】【了】，【那】【一】【鞭】【子】【抽】【过】【去】，【差】【点】【没】【把】【人】【给】【从】【中】【劈】【裂】【了】【开】【了】！ 【啥】？【用】【鞭】【子】【咋】【能】【将】【人】【劈】【开】？【那】【是】【你】【当】【时】【没】【有】【在】【现】【场】，【我】【可】【是】【亲】【眼】【看】【见】【的】，【那】【鞭】【子】【飞】【了】【起】【来】，“【咻】”【的】【一】【声】【让】【我】【差】【点】【以】【为】【听】
【很】【快】，【站】【长】【苟】【嘉】【江】，【就】【到】【了】【离】【开】【的】【日】【子】…… 【在】【离】【开】【联】【合】【站】【的】【时】【候】，【苟】【嘉】【江】【和】【魏】【莹】【握】【着】【手】，【非】【常】【语】【重】【心】【长】【地】【叮】【嘱】【她】，【说】【道】： “【魏】【莹】，【我】【走】【了】，【整】【个】【联】【合】【站】【的】【工】【作】，【就】【全】【部】【交】【给】【你】【了】……” 【魏】【莹】【让】【站】【长】【苟】【嘉】【江】【放】【心】【的】【回】【家】【去】【休】【假】，【她】【说】【道】： “【站】【长】，【你】【就】【放】【心】【吧】，【等】【你】【走】【了】【之】【后】，【我】【肯】【定】【会】【把】【咱】【们】【联】【合】【站】【给】买码输了搞笑图片《【华】【元】【宠】【阅】【会】》【正】【式】“【开】【会】”，【每】【周】【一】【个】【关】【于】【养】【宠】【生】【活】【的】【话】【题】。【华】【元】【关】【注】【宠】【物】【品】【质】【生】【活】【从】【来】【都】【说】【一】【不】【二】，【从】【科】【普】【传】【播】、【情】【感】【交】【流】【的】【细】【枝】【末】【节】【开】【始】，【倾】【情】【打】【造】【一】【个】【与】【众】【不】【同】【的】“【宠】【阅】【会】”。
【【改】【文】【稍】【后】【看】。】 【可】【是】，【那】【人】【却】【有】【一】【双】【蓝】【瞳】，【是】【显】【得】【如】【此】【的】【耀】【眼】。 【然】【而】【令】【人】【万】【万】【没】【想】【到】【的】【是】—— 【他】【并】【没】【有】【选】【择】【和】【凤】【仇】【凉】【搭】【话】。 【而】【是】【眼】【神】【凝】【视】【于】【楚】【水】…… 【此】【时】【此】【刻】。 【凤】【仇】【凉】【竟】【然】【是】【那】【般】【凝】【神】【专】【注】。 【就】【好】【像】，【他】【仅】【仅】【是】，【为】【了】【看】【世】【子】【府】【最】【后】【一】【眼】【罢】【了】。 【对】【周】【遭】【的】【所】【有】【一】【切】，【都】【恍】【若】【未】【觉】【的】