March 18, Tuesday evening -- Reading GRANTA

Reading Granta: The Magazine of New Writing, the 100th issue. The book is filled with, every few pages or so, a large black and white photograph of an author and, on the page next to it, a question that the author has never been asked, but would like to have been asked, such as
Gary Schteyngart: 'Gary, what are you going to do in ten or twenty years when people stop reading literature or novels completely?'

'I think I'd like to do something with my hands. I'm not sure what it would be. But I love foods. And maybe I'll go to some part of the world where I love a certain dish like Tom Yung Kung soup in Thailand. And I will apprentice myself to some master Tom Yum Kung maker or a master paella maker or, in Argentina, a master empanada maker. And I will devote five, ten years to making that food. And maybe I will come back to New York and open a little shack, not a restaurant, but just a place with a couple of tables. Because the less people read for some reason, the more they seem to eat. So I think there is some direct correlation there. That's what I would do.'

Her favorite book of all time--The Ambassadors, by Henry James--a character finds himself in unfamiliar place (Europe) and discovers self in the challenges of culture. It's densely psychological.

The books that got her reading when she was 9 or 10--The Silver Crown, by Robert C. O’Brien, the author of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and other great books, and The Dark is Rising books, by Susan Cooper. They're both about fantasy realms, but have reflections in reality.

Recently she read Lorrie Moore's book of short stories, Birds of America, which her mom gave her, and, from her husband, a biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton, who was one of the first Westerners to go to Mecca. Her husband really likes nonfiction and, over the years, as he recommended it, gradually, she began to really value it, especially history--she likes to see how what she learned superficially in school can become real.

What she's given her husband to read recently--the graphic novel series Cut Here, by Mike Carey, Jim Fern, and Jose Villarrubia, which, she said, is about Asian twins and sword play --her husband is into graphic novels, as well as nonfiction. And, also recently, to her mom, she gave a book poetry and drawings that she and her sister collaborated on together. She is the poet, her sister, the artist. Did her sister's renderings change the way she thought about her poetry? Yes! One of her favorite pictures was for a poem about accidentally touching strangers and her sister made this great picture of hands spiraling together and she liked how she did that.

Do you have any good writer/writer or writer/artist collaboration stories?


Anonymous said...

No. Every time I've tried to collaborate with someone on something, there's a difference in the creative process. Usually, I'd like to do more research on my topics and they don't.

The Burton biography sounds quite interesting though.

Anonymous said...

And the concept of everyone not reading in 10 or 15 years is a very frightening one.

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joelr said...

The books that got her reading when she was 9 or 10--Silver Crown, by Joel Rosenberg...

Wow. Thanks for sharing that; made my day.


Daria said...

To me, reading is just as important as food. Great blog! :)

Anonymous said...

I cannot write with someone else.

Ms. Bassette said...

When I was young, I read and loved a book called Gone Away Lake, by Elizabeth Enright and Joe and Beth Krush.
It was about two siblings who go to visit a cousin. On a search of the area, they discover an old lake and series of houses that were left abandoned after a dam was built. Two siblings still lived there as old people. It was a wonderful book full of the magic of discovery.

Every few pages, there were illustrations done. I loved them. I can still come upon other kids' book and immediately tell that the illustrations were done by the same people.

I loved that book. (and you are making me remember so many of them of my favorites...Magic Elizabeth, The Borrowers, so many with each question. Thank you.
Ps. I am also slowly working my way through Dogeared. I'm only in San Diego because I allow myself only a few minutes a night to enjoy your pictures, writing and glimpses into people's lives. It's wonderful, and I don't want to think when it will be finished. Hence, slow going!)

Jarkko said...

I have another kind of collaboration in mind - blog crossing. Pick up a blog writing from where somebody left it. Develop new ideas on the foundation that somebody created or break it down and build something new, what about just a tiny renovation?

I understand that it is very important to keep the brand of self untouched by others, but wouldn't it also be possible to influence with collective mix of starting up / picking up / passing on?