Friday, April 8, 2005

The Book Meme

John at archy has selected me as one of his three to pass on the Dreaded Book Meme. I’m flattered and I accept his challenge. John, by the way, was pegged by Coturnix at Science and Politics, and it started somewhere else before there. It will go on from here, trust me.

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

I am loath to admit that I never read Fahrenheit 451. I saw the film, though, and I know the premise: what book would I memorize to pass on to the next generation?

Lots of choices run through my mind; a play, certainly, or something practical, like The Joy of Cooking, or great literature that speaks to the beauty of the human spirit. John suggested a history might be valuable, though, so that younger generations would know where they came from and perhaps avoid the doom of repeating it. For that reason I’d choose William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Does that include characters I’ve created? It sounds incestuous if I say that I have a crush on Bobby in Bobby Cramer, and besides, a crush is totally unrequited; the other person doesn’t know you exist, and Bobby knows me all too well. In that case I’d have to say it would be Ken Talley in 5th of July by Lanford Wilson. He’s strong, independent, vulnerable, funny, and intelligent. “Anything’s possible with a little taste and charm.”

The last book you bought is?

For myself, it’s The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s about the fourth or fifth copy I’ve owned. I keep lending it out or finding new editions.

What are you currently reading?

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. My mom read it and sent me a copy without hesitation, and I’m slowly savoring it. It gives me great hope that there are writers out there who appreciate stories that aren’t all flash and melodrama and that there’s an audience for them.

True to form, it’s not the only book on the table. I’m working on Is Paris Burning? by Larry Collins and Dominic Lapierre about the liberation of Paris in 1944, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart, Pentimento by Lillian Hellman, and a screenplay written by a good friend.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

  • My single-volume edition of The Lord of the Rings. It was published in a thick paperback version in Great Britain and Canada in the early 1970’s, and it’s one book I never get tired of exploring.
  • The Wilderness Handbook by Paul Petzoldt. It got me through my NOLS course in 1974, and if I’m going to be on a deserted island it could come in handy.
  • One of the Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome. There are twelve in the series of stories about children sailing and having adventures in the Lake District of England and other places where boats and camping out is a part of life. My father read them as a child and passed them on to me. The hard part would be deciding which one, but in a pinch I’d take Pigeon Post because that’s the one that got me through my first time on a deserted island: my freshman year at St. George’s.
  • A good anthology of plays through the ages like Stages of Drama would inspire me to write, which leads me to my last choice:
  • A large notebook of empty pages and a reliable writing implement. I can’t be expected to just read the entire time.

    Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

  • Steve Bates of The Yellow Doggerel Democrat. This is a man who knows the written word as well as anyone I’ve met in real life or on-line, and I’d love to know what his choices would be.
  • Kat at Lab Kat. I love the way she thinks and I know she’ll come up with some really interesting choices.
  • Bryan at Why Now? is one of the most articulate and thoughtful bloggers out there.

    Don’t feel left out — do it yourself in the comments.

    Thanks, John; this was fun.

    Updates: Lab Kat, Steve at YDD, and Bryan at Why Now? have posted their memes. They have exceeded my wildest expectations.