Sunday, July 30, 2006

the one book meme

I don’t know where this originally came from, but I saw this on Toronto fiction writer Kate Sutherland's blog recently, & it got me thinking about my own. The hard part really is keeping it to only one title.

1. One book that changed your life:

Immortality by Milan Kundera. Sure, The Unbearable Lightness of Being was immeasurably good, but reading Immortality really did change my life. I couldn’t even begin to tell you why. That was more than twelve years ago, though; more recently, I'd have to say New York novelist Paul Auster's Book of Illusions (2002). Why couldn’t his novel after this one be as good? To know that such things have already been done open up so many wonderful possibilities for writing fiction of my own… Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, collected in a series of graphic novels, easily changed the way I saw fiction of any kind; Gaiman has to be the best storyteller I've ever read. Even the movies Magnolia, Smoke or Until the End of the World altered the way I saw writing & reading fiction; but do films count? Why can't I keep to just one?

2. One book that you've read more than once:

Stones, a short story collection by the late Timothy Findley. The shorter his books, the better they are. There is just something about this collection that burns.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island:

The Night the Dog Smiled (Toronto ON: ECW Press, 1986), the last individual collection by the late Saskatchewan poet John Newlove. Or maybe expat-Canadian Suzanne Buffam's Past Imperfect (Toronto ON: House of Anansi, 2005) [see my note on such here]? No, actually. The Newlove. Yes.

4. One book that made you laugh:

George Bowering's memoir Baseball Love (Vancouver BC: Talonbooks, 2006) [see my note on such here]. I've always liked Bowering's sense of humour (I think I have about 5,263,237 of his titles), but this one had something particularly more free & playful going on inside. There is something particularly entertaining about sitting in a public place & laughing out loud at something you read.

5. One book that made you cry:

I can't recall anything that made me particularly weepy in fiction; movies, every so often, really strike, & take a long time to leave my system. Romeo is Bleeding hit pretty hard, as did Lulu on the Bridge (I couldn’t interact with anyone for hours after watching either of them), but nothing I can recall from fiction. Ah, well.

6. One book that you wish had been written:

I could list a series of writers that I wish had lived longer to have written longer, such as poets John Newlove (not that it might have made much difference) or Gwendolyn MacEwen or John Thompson. Otherwise I can't really think of anything (I seem not to be very good at this game).

7. One book that you wish had never been written:

That’s a pretty high order; the removal of something from literature. There have been a few books along the way that haven’t really done a lot for me, but nothing I would feel the need to wish away. I'm of the belief that to remove even a bad thing from the past would alter any consideration of the present, & I tend to like my present pretty much the way it is. Mostly.

8. One book you're currently reading:

Ivan Klíma's Love and Garbage. I remember an interview with him over a decade ago on the earliest version of TV Ontario's Imprint that very much impressed me, & it was about this particular novel. I'm barely into it, & can't even remember where it was I recently found it, but I knew I had to pick it up. About ten years ago, I read another one of his novels I particularly enjoyed, but of course I can't recall the title of that one, either. He can hold me over until Milan Kundera has another novel out for me to read. I picked up a few titles by Australian writer Peter Carey recently to read when Kate & I get out to the farm, but I haven't opened any of them up yet.

9. One book you've been meaning to read:

Simple Recipes by Madeleine Thien, her collection of short stories. I was so completely taken by her reading at the ottawa international writers festival this past spring, & then even more by her novel Certainty (Toronto ON: McClelland & Stewart) that I think I have to read more. The new novel The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, actually; I haven’t felt the need to read anything but her non-fiction since the late 1980s (by then, I had actually read everything up to that point), but there is something about this new novel that really intrigues me; & any other part of that international series of rewritten myths; didn’t Jeanette Winterson do one? (I love her work) & anything by Paul Auster that I simply haven’t found yet.

10. Now tag five people:

I think I would be very interested in hearing the same from friends & blogger-poets Amanda Earl, Mark Truscott, Jordan Scott (he really needs to be posting more anyways), Sina Queyras & Wanda O'Connor (& Jessica Smith too; why can’t I just keep to five?). Dare they answer?

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