1. What book are you reading right now?
Paris 1919, by Margaret MacMillan
2. Do you like it? Why or why not?
Quite a bit. It's well-written and very detailed account of the Paris Peace Conference held following the First World War.
It has significantly added to my understanding of the awful complexity of the "Old World" - Serbs and Croats, Greeks and Italians, Bulgarians, Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Jews, French, English, Russians, various flavours of Germans, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles - that's just off the top of my head - most of which peoples' claim glorious pasts and dream of equally glorious futures, still largely stuck in a pre-20th century mindset where war equalled conquest equalled loot.
It all sounds very arcane, very savage and primitive, in fact, to a Canadian, where questions of race and creed (at least in theory) have no bearing upon one's position in a society.
Also, it is a good reminder when one looks at, say, Africa or the Middle East, that the European "tribes" only stopped slaughtering one another on a large scale some 60 years ago.
Er, yes: it's a pretty good book thus far.
3. Have you read the author before? Did you like him/her?
I'd never even heard of her, until her book - which had been turned down by every Canadian publisher to which she submitted it - was published overseas and one a number of awards.
4. What's the last book you read?
Dhalgren, by Samuel R. Delaney.
5. Did you like it?
Er ... yes. It's part of my personal canon and I must have read it 20 times since I stumbled across it sometime during 6th or 7th grade.
One of these days (maybe) I'm going to write a massive essay on it.
6. What's next after this one?
Possibly The Shipping News, since it's sitting on my coffee table, asking me each morning, "Why did you buy me if you are just going to leave me launguishing here, as the cat fur grows deeper, obscuring my cover like a fibrous blanket of snow?"
Er, see above.
8. Do you read more nonfiction or fiction?
Probably more fiction, but not by that much.
9. What's your favorite nonfiction book?
I don't have a favourite peice of non-fiction. So, in no particular order, here a few that I think very highly of.
- Chaos by James Gleic;
- The Sleepwalkers, The Act of Creation and The Ghost in the Machine, all by Arthur Koestler;
- The Deomon Lover by Robin Morgan;
- Wonderful Life by Stephen J. Gould;
- Voltaire's Bastards and Confessions of a Siamese Twin by John Raulston Saul; and
- Beast and Man by Mary Midgley.
10. What's your favorite fiction book?
Another open-ended question, another list - again, in no particular order.
- Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany;
- No Great Mischeif by Alistair MacLeod;
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien;
- The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irivng;
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen;
- Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson;
- Absolute Friends by John Le Carre; and
- Alice In Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.
That too is enough.
11. What was the first book you read as a kid that really got you going?
Another long list. Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner; Edward Ardizone's "Little Tim by the Sea" books; the Alice books; The Secret Garden; Seuss (of course); E. Nesbitt's wonderful The Railway Children; and, in a weird way when I was 9, William Schirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which may have sparked - certainly it stoked - my interest in history. Ooh! And Herge's Tintin books, and C.C. Beck's Captain Marvel!
12. What book do you wish had been around when you were a kid?
I can't think of anything off-hand. My literary childhood was quite rich.
13. What was the worst so-called classic you were ever forced to read?
Salinger's Franny and Zoey, easy.
14. What was the worst modern book you tried to read as an adult?
Barbara Gowdy's The White Bone, wherein we learn that wild African elephants are, in their heart of hearts, a bunch of middle class Canadian feminists. Talk about running amok with anthropomorphizing!
15. Who is the most overrated author in history?
Lessee, I'll pick ... Salinger.
16. Who is the most underrated author in history? (Published only.)
Gotta love these so-sweeping-they're-meaningless questions! Oh, let's say ... Theodore Sturgeon.
17. What author would you most want to meet in person?
Probably John Raulston Saul.
18. What sells a book for you: the cover art, the description on the back, sitting down to read the first chapter...?
Some combination of all of those, I guess.
19. Who's the writer who sells a book to you just with his name, you don't know anything about it but you'll buy it because s/he wrote it?
- Kim Stanley Robinson;
- John Le Carre; and
- John Varley.
20. When you're bored, and you look at your bookshelf for something to reread, what do you reach for first?
I tend to go for either one of the SF anthologies I haven't picked up in a while or else back issues of The Comics Journal.
Well. I've finished the damned thing; I suppose I might as well post it.