Sunday, May 10, 2009

So, after having it pointed out to me, I decided to post this.

PS (in advance). Re the Shakespeare question. On some other blogs, people keep make comments in the direction of "Ooooh I hate Shakespeare, school ruined him for me" etc etc. Rubbish. Sorry. I know some teachers are lame, but it is NOT a problem to teach Shakespeare at the age of 10, as some people seem to believe. It just has to be done right.


1) What author do you own the most books by?

That depends on whether you count the books I have here in Oxford or the book I "own" at home or all the books I count as existing in my "owning" domain (i.e. Dad's books and stuff). At the moment, Flann O'Brien is up there, as are Yeats, Synge, Joyce, and Orwell. At home, I still have about every book by Scott O'Dell, Louisa May Alcott, etc. If Audrey Niffeneger wrote more books, I would own them. Plus, this question is biased because it implies that the more books you own, the more you like an author. That is just not true.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
Hmmm. Again, if you count my owning domain :), possibly At Swim-Two-Birds or various editions of Yeats.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Clearly. Although as Churchill once said...

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Henry. Only some people will get that.

Generally I fall in love with lifestyles rather than characters.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
The Beekeeper's Apprentice. The Doomsday Book. The Time-Traveller's Wife. Various books from my childhood that are not picture books. The Dead.

6) What was your favourite book when you were ten years old?
I'm not sure. I read too many I think. Possibly the Narnia books (I realise that's not A book, but deal with it).

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
The Information Society. Rubbish. "Look, the internet!!!!"

I also tried to read The Line of Beauty, which I realise is award-winning and all that, but I got bored.

Also, Twilight is tied for the worst and the best. It's SO bad, but has inspired more discussion than almost any other book. Will and I have some great theories.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
I hate questions like this; I read too many books. Possibly in rereading To the Lighthouse I realised Woolf is one of the ultimate capturers (I know that's not a word, sue me) of human emotion.

Oh oh oh Adam Gopnik's Paris to the Moon. Best nonfiction book I've read in AGES.

Does At Swim-Two-Birds count if I'd already read it a billion times?

9) If you could force everyone you know to read one book, what would it be?
At Swim-Two-Birds
Midnight's Children

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
Someone else said Margaret Atwood. NOOOOOOO.

I am not sure. Many people I read are dead.

Is it a huge step to mention someone like Brian Friel??? I guess I'm a bit biased towards the Irish side.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Could you make At Swim-Two-Birds into a movie and not make me angry? If so, do it.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Anything by Woolf. It wouldn't work.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
After reading Twilight I dreamt I was a vampire. I'm not sure if that counts.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
Sometimes I feel all superior about certain books other people are reading. Then I remember something written in The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop. When the main character is lamenting his own parents' reading material (as in, they read romances and science books instead of Shakespeare), his boss tells him to get over it because in any case they showed him that reading was enjoyable, no matter what the material. I try to keep that in mind when faced with certain books.

Still, I could say Twilight.

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Ulysses.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
How can anyone not like Shakespeare (sorry that was based on all the other answers I've seen to this questions). I'm not really sure....which ones are obscure? I've seen A Comedy of Errors, which isn't incredibly common.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
Hahahahahahaha. Loaded question. I love Doestoevsky, but would have to go with the French.

18) Roth or Updike?
I'm sad and have not read either.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
I haven't read any Eggers but was massively underwhelmed by Sedaris (sorry Arathi)

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Who writes a literary blog when they haven't read Milton or Chaucer and hate Shakespeare (argh, sorry, again based on previous answers). I think Shakespeare.

21) Austen or Eliot?
Austen.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Um. It used to be Modernism. Not anymore. Thank you Oxford and your "20th Century" that spans 30 years. Now it might be the early classics (I'm talking Greek here). I don't know. That's a stupid question. There are too many books.

23) What is your favourite novel?
At Swim-Two-Birds. The Time-Travellers Wife.

24) Play?
Hmmmm. I feel like there is something I saw recently that I should say but can't get into my head. Possibly anything by Brian Friel.

25) Poem?
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven -- Yeats
Duino Elegies -- Rilke
Most of ee cummings

26) Essay?
Those in Paris to the Moon

27) Short story?
I'm not a big short story reader. If anyone suggests something I will try it.

28) Work of nonfiction?
Paris to the Moon.

29) Who is your favourite writer?
Is it ok to say Flann O'Brien when I don't like some of his stuff?

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
There are so so so many.

31) What is your desert island book?
I tend to be able to reread books that are a bit less classic-y in the traditional sense and more modern. Possibly The Time Travellers Wife, or the Beekeeper's Apprentice.

32) And... what are you reading right now?
I put down The Information Society because it was rubbish. I am now reading Librarianship: An Introduction and am again not so thrilled. I just reread The Time Traveller's Wife. Also I read for the first time Coetzee's Disgrace, and was duly impressed. I am going to see him speak next month and must be prepared with questions I will not be allowed to ask (don't ask). I am also about to start Zuleika Dobson but unfortunately I only have the most beautiful illustrated but not-very-portable copy (oh Rachel it is so so so pretty I do love it).

1 comment:

Alan said...

Not bad. Fun to read.

Short stories:

Joyce:

--The Dead.
--Ivy Day in the Committee Room.

Melville ( Are Billy Budd and Bartleby the Scrivener short stories or short novels ?).

Is Heart of Darkness a short story, or a short novel ? I love Conrad, and grew up on A CONRAD ARGOSSY, a collection of his work.

What I re-read (off the cuff):

Shakespeare, endlessly.

Chaucer (you mean they let students reach this stuff)

Burns (to read and sing).

Yeats (to read and some to sing).

Blake.

G.M. Hopkins.

Ezra Pound.

The Golden Treasury (meaning that English lyric poetry is full of delights).

Early Irish Poems (esp. O'Connor's translations).

Flann O'Brien (At Swim- & The Poor Mouth).

Nabokov (esp. Pale Fire, The Gift).

Dostoievski (esp. The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, Crime and Punishment). See Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Prize lecture, where he talks about Dostoievski's prediction: "Beauty will save the world."

Brian Friel (Translations).

San Juan de la Cruz (Poems. La noche oscura).

Robert Frost.

The Bible (King James in English, Reina Valera in Spanish, Luther in German, The Vulgate in Latin). If parents and teachers knew what was in The Bible, they would not let their children read it. No wonder the Catholic Church placed it (more precisely, versions of it) on the Index of Prohibited Books.
The Song of Songs. Esther. Ruth. The stories of David (so flawed, yet so real: "Punish me, do what you want to me, but I have to keep the woman." I could get young people to read The Bible, by focusing on the adventures for the Young, and the adventures and misadventures of love for the older. [Walter de la Mare: King David...was a sorrowful man....).

Joyce (Portrait, Ulysses. NOT poems, and NOT Finnegans Wake).

James Stephens (Deidre, The Crock of Gold).

Chesterton (esp. The Napoleon of Notting Hill. The Everlasting Man, but just about everything. ).

Dante (esp La Vita Nuova, and Purgatorio--in the later poets meet in friendship and he meets again his first love).

Kipling (Lovely poems, like Recessional. Kim. Puck of Pook's Hill).

W.H. Hudson. Green Mansions (with the half-relief statute of Rima in London). "Sin vos y sin dios y mi." "Without you, I am without God, without myself."

W.H. Auden. "1939." "Yeats."

More later. I dream of times sharing books and poems and songs with dear friends, as I used to do with Claude and George Mayberry, and with Anna Grace.

alg