There is no friend as loyal as a book.
Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) Writer
I have taken the liberty of copying the New York Times’ book review feature called By The Book and asked myself some of the same questions they ask authors. Here is a brief interview about books with myself.
What books are currently on your nightstand?
I don’t have any books on my nightstand. I read outside of the bedroom. What I am currently reading is “An Object of Beauty” by Steve Martin.
Who is your favorite novelist of all time? And your favorite novelist writing today?
I would say John Cheever and William Trevor. Trevor can pack so much information into a relatively short sentence better than anyone else I have ever read. Cheever creates situations where I feel I am viewing a family or an individual’s private moment during a moment of crisis. Philip Roth just retired, but I think he is among the best writers I have ever read. There are many other writers I like such as Dennis Lehane, Edward P. Jones, to give just a couple of names.
What books would you most recommend?
It depends on what they liked. For example, I think a good mystery is a great way for someone to start reading. A good mystery is a page turner and it provides the reader with the excitement of a good book that is beyond anything the movies can deliver.
Who do you like as a mystery writers?
I would say that I am rather stuck on Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher. A new writer that my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed was Roger Hobbs’ “Ghost Man.” I am looking forward to reading P.D James and Jo Nesbo.
What are your literary guilty pleasures? Do you have a favorite genre?
Mystery. I love bibliomysteries best of all. My favorites are John Dunning’s series with his bookshop detective Cliff Janeway. I also enjoyed Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The “Shadow of the Wind” and its cemetery of lost books.
Which books might we be surprised to find on your bookshelves?
“How Murray Saved Christmas.”
What was the last book to make you laugh?
There is always at least a line or two in most books that makes me laugh out loud.
The last book that made you cry?
It doesn’t take much, but I so enjoyed reading “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson. It felt like a Hallmark movie, just an old fashion love story.
The last book that made you furious?
Probably some nonfiction about our government’s involvement in Iraq that one wishes was fiction.
What kind of reader were you as a child? And what were your favorite books?
Not much of one, but I did read a few books.
What were the most influential books you read as a student?
Mark Twain’s “Mystery Stranger.”
Whom do you consider your literary heroes?
I wouldn’t call them heroes, but I admire prolific, talented writers. The writer who makes me most jealous is Steve Martin. He is just so talented in so many areas.
Who was your biggest influence regarding what you read?
I would say both my uncle and my friend Mark.
How do you find out about books?
The New York Times book critics and the book review section on Sundays, friends, articles, bookstores, etc.
Which novels have had the most impact on you as a writer? Is there a particular book that made you want to write?
I initially wanted to be a journalist. So, any books about reporters made me want to write. Also, now I enjoy essayists.
If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
The biography of George Washington “His Excellency” by Joseph J. Ellis. Washington was a saint; especially compared to the egoistical, lying mercenaries we get to choose from today.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
It depends on what type of evening I wanted. For history David Halberstam, Kevin Phillips, George Seldes, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Studs Terkel, Gay Talse, and many others. For fiction Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Philip Roth, and I could go on.
I would simply be a fly on the wall. Just to listen to them would be thrilling and inspiring.
What kinds of books do you like to read before you go to bed?
Whatever book I am currently reading.
Do you enjoy historical fiction?
Yes, I love long sweeping stories by Beverly Swerling, Ken Follett, and many others.
What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
I didn’t finish it and don’t remember it.
What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?
Many of the classics that I just will never get around to. Although I do hope to read “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas and “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy.
What do you plan to read next?
There is a new western coming out by Larry McMurtry that I am looking forward to reading.
Any overlooked books you want to mention?
I thoroughly enjoyed “The Last Samurai” by Helen DeWitt and thought it would be on all the bestseller lists. From the dust jacket’s first paragraph: Ludo, age six, is a prodigy. His mother, Sibylla, raises him alone and tries hard to keep his voracious intellect satisfied while she struggles to make ends meet.