Sheesh, this weather seems like a fantasy so why not go whole hog… YO!, ALERT! THIS IS NOT REAL, THIS IS NOT REAL….!
“By the Book”
New York Times Book Review
This weekly feature appears in the New York Time Book Review and features either authors of hot books, or writing greats and their latest offerings. Interviews do not include we of the Rus Tribe. The pub does not seek people like me in part because as I like to put it “outside New York is China.” New York has minimal interesting in rust-country scribblers, or in news from out here, UNLESS said report is written by some New York-based individual who travels out in these parts for a period of time (like hiking beyond the Pale) and imagines it to be terra incognito (Beyond here Dwell Dragons) where this stout individual has barely escaped with life and limb. But are they interested in one of us who lives IN terra incognito, Nosiree Marie.
Let’s be clear on reality: My writing career has gone from internationally unknown to regionally obscure and in that capacity this obscure author would tell them sure, you betcha, okey doke, wah! Seriously, who turns down the Failing New York Times (as it is termed in Presidentialese).
Okay, this isn’t real, but, as an author, I get paid to make things up — but here we go–
What books are currently on your nightstand?
The Farmer’s Almanac in large type.
What’s the last great book you read?
Out loud or to myself (without moving my lips)? The last great book I read was Stephen Greenblatt’s The Curve.
What’s the best classic novel you recently read for the first time?
Classic Comics, or classics without pictures? If the latter: Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. And Lawrence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Sterne’s work has some drawings. Does that eliminate it from the classic definition? I read both last year. Plus Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. Amazing read.
How do you organize your books?
Inside my home, in rooms, on shelves, in rows, tallest to shortest and (port to starboard). I have a library in excess of 25,000 volumes. Do you guys have a better approach to organizing them?
Tell us about your favorites short stories:
My favorite was written by my late father in a high school class around 1937. The title was “The Game.” The narrative consisted of four words. “Rain, game called off.” Talk about flash fiction. I also like the stories of Stu Dybek and Bonnie Jo Campbell.
What moves you in a work of literature?”
Opening the book and finding a complete world I had not anticipated and probably could not imagine on my own.
What genres to you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
I especially like bathroom and public graffiti, and cereal box promotional copy. I rarely read conservative Horatio Alger stories or the Federal Register, which is like reading substandard pidgin-Klingon.
What’s the best book you’ve received as a gift?
Easy. Bear with me here: I grew up in a USAF family and we were flying back to the States after a 3 yr tour in Europe, and I came down with measles and the crew offloaded (dumped) us in the Azores and I was hospitalized. The measles then passed from me to my brother and by the time we were healthy enough to travel again, three weeks had passed. At one point in this stay, a MATS MedEvac came in from Germany, loaded with Section 8 and sundry psychiatric cases. One of the passengers got loose and the flight had to be delayed three days while the manhunt went on. The fellow was eventually located under a thick bush not six feet from the entrance to the hospital. Meanwhile we had psych patients wandering all over the place and one came into my room and saw me doodling and next thing I knew he showed up with a book on how to draw cartoons. He had gone to the PX and bought if for me, to encourage my drawing interests. I still have the book (though I couldn’t lay my hands on it with dispatch. I also still draw cartoons. By far this was the best book gift I ever got.
Second best would have been Peyton Place, but by the time it reached me from my pals, it was pretty tattered from heavy teenage “reading.”
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, would you invite?
Well, no croaked-folk… putrescence does not positively stimulate my appetite. But okay, I’d either invite James Salter, Mike Delp, and Bonnie Jo Campbell and we’d talk rivers and trout and all that romantic and savage outdoor stuff. Or I’d invite, Wm Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, and A.L Rowse, so I could sit back and see if the Bard would bug out after suffering Rowse’s legendary arrogance, or if Churchill and the Bard will gang up on the big-headed professor. Talk about a great dinner party! I can’t wait. Will you guys set it up or do I have to ask some reporter from a press conference to do it?
Next up I’ll be fauxinterviewed by the retired Brian Lamb for C-Span’s Booknotes.
Dinner party guests: