15 August 2006

LitLove's Meme

I started to create my own meme last Sunday, but then I saw LitLove's meme, which is so much better. I'll keep mine for another time, to be posted after much revision.

1. First book to leave a lasting impression? A Wrinkle in Time was the first book that I remember wanting to re-read as soon as I reached the last page. The Witch of Blackbird Pond was the first book that got me in trouble -- first with my parents for reading it by flashlight after being told to go to bed, and then by the teacher for not returning it promptly to the school library. I don't know if I ever finished it, nor do I recall any details about the book, but I remember the experience of reading it.

2. Which author would you most like to be? I'd like to be any author who makes her living from writing and is under no pressure to write anything on deadline. Such a person probably doesn't exist!

3. Name the book that has most made you want to visit a place? Just about every book has made me want to 'visit' the place, real or imaginary, at least until I've finished reading the book. As a young teen, I wanted to go to Middle-Earth. 30 years later seeing Peter Jackson's LOTR, I thought "Is that it? Yes, that's it! Just like I imagined it, except darker in parts, but it's perfect." So I guess I have been as close as one possibly can to visiting.

Visiting a place has added at least one work to my TBR list: on a brief visit to Morocco, the guide mentioned Bowles' The Sheltering Sky. While nobody on the tour had heard of it, I tucked that title into the memory banks for a future read. Since starting to read litblogs several months ago, I have read repeatedly strong recommendations for this book.

4. Which contemporary author will still be read in 100 years time? Novelist: Garcia-Marquez and Updike, Poet: Pablo Neruda, WS Merwin, Dramatist: maybe Kushner, August Wilson.

5. Which book would you recommend to a teenager reluctant to try ‘literature’? Depending on the kid (and assuming that he/she isn't opposed to reading but hasn't had much experience with literature): Cat's Cradle for the older teen who might already be reading pulp sci-fi, The Lord of the Rings for one who is into gaming, The Once and Future King for a precocious pre-teen who wouldn't be discouraged by it's length because it has it all -- romance, magic, war, animals, pains of growing up, parental loss, etc. For a younger kid, especially boys, who haven't realized the joy of reading a full-length book, Jean Craighead George's My Side of the Mountain is a wonderful choice. I could go on and on. Certainly you didn't mean only one book, LitLove?

6. Name your best recent literary discovery? Last spring, after a long day at work and following the child's last track meet, and then after fighting cross-town traffic and being misdirected to the wrong building, I managed to catch the last part of a reading by Chris Abani. I'm glad that I didn't give up on the idea of attending when I discovered I would have to run (in heels!) across campus. I was blown away by his poetry, the passages he read from his novella Becoming Abigail, his commentary during the reading and his personal demeanor at the book-signing. Daphne's Lot is a wonderful, epic poem. Graceland is still calling to me from near the top of the TBR pile to be finished.

7. Which author’s fictional world would you most like to live in? I can't think of any fictional world I'd want to live in -- only reasons why I wouldn't want to. Maybe Karen Blixen's Africa: "If I know a song of Africa, of the Giraffe, and the African new moon lying on her back, of the ploughs in the fields, and the sweaty faces of the coffee-pickers, does Africa know a song of me?" The lyrical, beautiful Africa she writes about, populated by graceful animals and interesting people. But, the Africa without the pain of her unhappy marriage, before the death of Finch-Hatten, without the pretenses, racism, and exploitation of colonialism, before her coffee plantation went bankrupt....See, I can't think of a world. And this one isn't fictional!

8. Name your favourite poet? They'd have to arm-wrestle for title of most favorite: Shakespeare or John Donne.

9. What’s the best non-fiction title you’ve read this year? Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation. I laughed my way through it, which is an odd thing to say about a book about Presidential assassinations. But, Vowell's mixture of irreverence and historical facts was a pleasure to read. However, I'm in the process of reading John Berendt's The City of Falling Angels, so this may soon be toppled from it's 'best non-fiction read' perch.

10. Which author do you think is much better than his/her reputation? As a recovering Literary Snob -- aka former student of 'serious lit-er-a-ture' -- I don't want to answer this question. One should read what one likes and forget about the 'reputation' or established canons. Sadly, such reputations are what keeps new writers from being published and encourages some established writers to phone in their next work.


litlove said...

Great answers, Cam! And I can so rarely commit myself to just the one book, I have every sympathy for others in such a fix! The final question was supposed as it were to redress the very wrongs of which you speak, but I quite appreciate your position. I look forward to your meme coming out soon!

Dorothy W. said...

I like the idea behind your last answer -- that we should read what we want to and forget about reputation. I'm a recovering literary snob too.

Danielle said...

Good answers! I love reading these memes--it always gives me new ideas on books and reading. I recommened The Sheltering Sky, too! I thought about that book when I was answering this meme. The book descriptions were so vivid, that it made you feel like you were there! Bowles is an excellent writer.

Carl V. said...

I chose Middle-earth as well when I did this and hadn't thought of the fact that PJ does let me enter that world everytime I want to see it for myself. I would love to visit New Zealand sometime.

Cam said...

Litlove and Dorothy: Another reason I didn't answer that question was because it's rare that I read a lot of one author -- so it'd be difficult to assess someone's work as underrated. But, I do stand by what I said: that I prefer not go by reputation. Yet, except for the occassional surprise 'find' in the bookstore or library, books tend to be chosen based on reputation. One of the wonderful things about reading litblogs, as so many others have commented, is that I learn about so many books that I never would have known about.

Danielle: I will definitely put 'The Sheltering Sky' on my list. Since I've heard so much about it, I wish that I had bought a copy when I was in Tangiers. However, it was hawked so much by the guide, in the same fashion as the rugs of questionable quality and other so-called 'authentic' Moroccan items, I was doubtful of the book. I only knew of the title from seeing the movie at the video store -- covered with dust, looking like it had never been checked out. I checked IMDB; it's directed by Bertolucci and starts John Malkovich & Debra Winger. That would recommend it but IMDB also quotes Paul Bowles as saying that it was idiotic and never should have been filmed. So I'll skip the movie, but keep the book on the list!

Carl V: My son saw LOTR before I did and said it was just like he imagined it. Still, I was skeptical but very glad that it was exactly like I would have created it, if I knew how to even begin to translate something in my imagination into film.