I've been meme'd by Dr. Guy with questions about books. While you wait for me to get into a mood to create a link to his blog out there in internet-land, you can find him lurking in my Other Journals area -- look for his link under JudithHeartsong's blog -- New Journal Discoveries or something like that. Check out some of the other links I put there, too.
1. A book that changed your life
There are two, actually -- Last Exit to Brooklyn and Neuroses.
I read Last Exit during a sub zero
February weekend in 1966, while trying to keep warm in a charming, but unheated cabin. Divided
into six novellas, the book grabs you by the throat and forces its hot,
whiskey-soaked, unfiltered cigarette breath up your nostrils. Reading Hubert Selby’s prose was like watching the point of a very
sharp knife begin to slice through skin and muscle, leaving a
bloody wake as it probed for the bone.
Tralala was the most dramatic story of the deadend
lives illuminated by Selby in the half shadows of streetlights
just off The Last Exit. Her gruesome death was
so graphically portrayed that Susan Brownmiller quoted it in
her book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. Tralala was also
made into a movie, but I knew it would feel like an abridged or
glamorized Hollywood version,
never saw it.
Sitting by the fire forty years
ago, wrapped up in layers of blankets, turning the pages with gloved
hands, I was left bereft and shocked by her life and death the same way
I was affected by JFK’s assassination. Nothing anyone could see
on the outside. But I changed immeasurably on the inside.
Neuroses, on the other hand, was
one of the many psych tomes my father had on hand, him being a
psychoanalyst and all. There were at least 800 pages of cases, an
edited compilation of crazy behaviors, shortened into synopses of just
a few hundred words apiece. They were as tasty to me as eating a
box of chocolates. I absorbed the lessons learned from these troubled
people like a sorcerer’s apprentice. Haaaa. I love that
2. One book you have read more than once
There are so many. Not because of my desire to read wonderful stories again, but because I forget that I’ve read them before.
However, I feel the need to re-read Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, the way
some women have an urge to start spring cleaning. I am entranced
by the lilt of Karen Blixen’s Danish inflected English. You can
hear it on the page. Mostly I sense a strong, independent woman’s
lifelong melancholy over the choices she’s made. Particularly the
philandering, syphilitic husband she married and the tragic end to her
long love affair with Robert Redford. Sorry, I meant Denys Finch
3. One book you would want on a desert island
Dave Barry. Or Molly
Ivins. Give me a collection of their columns. If I’m stuck on a
desert island I’m going to need some laughs.
4. One book that made you laugh
Keep in mind that my
favorite genre is nonfiction, especially about serial killers. So with
all due respect to a billion dollar industry, the one romance novel I
started made me laugh for the wrong reasons, I'm afraid. After about
five pages I had to stop because I was shaking my head and smiling,
then reading the words out loud because they were sooooo treacly.
I couldn’t believe they weren’t kidding. No I don't remember the name
of the book. Does it matter?
5. One book that made you cry
Tuesdays with Morrie. It made me miss my mom.
6. One book you wish you had written.
I want to be realistic here. For instance there's no way I could pass
for the next Margaret Atwood. Or Joyce Carol Oates. But Janet
Evanovich? Let's talk. What number is she up to now, twelve?
Twelve adventures of Stephanie Plum -- the New Jersey Nancy Drew. I
wish I had just some of Ms. Evanovich's sheckels.
7. One book you wish had never been written
The Bible. More evil has been invoked while quoting the Bible than any other book except, possibly, the Koran.
8. One book you are currently reading
Well, I read the New York Times Book
Review yesterday -- does that count? Other than that the most recent
book I read was while on vacation this past week. It was, uh, Marley
and Me. Did I mention that most of the time I was WORKING? Okay,
telecommuting? Yeah, really. When I wasn't working I was eating.
9. One book you have been meaning to read
Undaunted Courage by Stephen
Ambrose. I’ve arrived late to an interest in American History, despite
some excellent courses in college. However, I
got on the
American history bandwagon a few years ago, when I learned that Thomas
John Adams both died on the same day – the fourth of July. [How the
heck did I ever miss that?] Yo, Dude, dying on the same day and it was the fourth of Julyl?!!! THAT is
Jefferson’s vision for a country from coast to coast was ridiculed and
scorned when he wanted to spend money for the Louisiana purchase, but
he sure persevered. Sending Lewis and Clark to check out the
neighborhood was inspired. Even the sad end of Merriwether Lewis,
committing suicide following some personal setbacks, after completing
one of the most remarkable feats of exploration ever, is stuff I want
to read about. And it's all beautifully written.
10. Now I'm supposed to tag five people. Gimme a minute. You're all dreading this aren't you?
Why don't we make tagging voluntary? If you want to particpate
you can answer as many questions as you want in COMMENTS or take the
questions back to your own blog.