I’ve got time for a quick meme on a Saturday morning before I disappear to Strasbourg for a days’ shopping. This one is courtesy of Litlove:
1. First book to leave a lasting impression:
I had many book passions as a child, but I think the one that had the most lasting effect was Little Women: I wanted to be clever and writerly like Jo, passionate and beautiful like Amy, devoted and kind like Meg. Growing up in a house full of boys, I loved their all-female household and thought the idea of a gang of sisters was heaven.
2. Which author would you like to be:
Can I be ambitious and say for her output, range and craftsmanship, I’d like to be Margaret Atwood? I don’t envy any writer their actual life, plus I like my own, but one-tenth of Atwood’s gift would be really nice.
3. Name the book that has made you most want to visit a place:
At university I was obsessed with Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky and Morocco. I’ve never managed to get there, and somehow, it doesn’t draw me as much now. After reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I was very excited to go to Savannah a few years ago and it lived up to my expectations: green, lush and sweltering. You can imagine intrigue and violence going on behind those elegant house fronts and secret assignations in those beautiful green parks.
4. Which contemporary author will still be read in 100 years’ time:
I’ll have to echo others here with Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison and Kazuo Ishiguro, but I’ll add Ian McEwan and Anne Tyler.
5. Which book would you recommend to a teenager reluctant to try ‘literature’?
The Catcher in the Rye, without a doubt.
6. Name your best recent literary discovery:
I’ve just discovered the Canadian author Miriam Toews. I adored her brilliant A Complicated Kindness for its dry wit, brutal honesty and evocation of a twisted society.
7. Which author’s fictional world would you most like to live in?
As a child I soooo badly wanted to go to Narnia! Most of the books I read now, while fascinating, are not really inviting as places to live. In order to be interesting and go on a journey that grabs us as readers, most characters are flawed and sad, and their worlds are cruel or drab. For colour, laughter and ripping dialogue, I’d do time in a Nick Hornby novel.
8. Name your favourite poet:
Wordsworth, Yeats and Dorothy Parker – oh, sorry, that was three.
9. What’s the best nonfiction book you’ve read this year?
I’m going to be superficial here and say Nigella Lawson’s Feast! A huge fat tome of a cookbook, it has stunning photos (which are essential to a cook) and is divided according to feasts you might have, from Christmas, Easter and Eid to wedding, funeral and Halloween feasts. She writes with wit, is inspirational and calming, making the most ambitious ten-course meal seem as simple as an omelette for one.
10. Which author is better than his/her reputation?
Once in a dry spell, in the days before Amazon was invented, and when I couldn’t get to a bookshop that sold English books, I attempted out of desperation one of my husband’s Robert Ludlum spy thrillers. I quickly read two more. They were excellent: well-crafted, tense and a great study of the Cold War. I am finding this hard to admit, but perhaps he is under-rated.
Nous allons! Vive le shopping!