The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia
31 March 2009
Literary Maven Meme
I came across this meme on Julianne Douglas’s Writing the Renaissance blog and found it thought provoking. She didn’t tag anyone, but invited her readers to try it, so I did.
1. What author do you own the most books by?
Because most of my books were destroyed when the federal levees around New Orleans broke, the books I have now are not representative of what I had collected over the years. The author with the most books on my shelves now is historical romance author Lynna Banning, followed by historical romance author Jennifer Blake.
2. What book do you own the most copies of?
The Bible. And I’m an agnostic. Go figure.
3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with a preposition?
No. As a copyeditor, I believe ending a sentence with a preposition or other weak word is better than writing a convoluted, unnatural sentence.
4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
It wouldn’t be a secret if I told you.
5. What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding children's picture books)?
6. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
7. What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Dawn of Empire by Sam Barone. Many factors contributed to the beginning of civilization in ancient Mesopotamia, and Mr. B. ignored them all except the need to band together for protection from enemies. This is a wish-fulfillment book for guys about guys.
8. What is the best book you've read in the last year?
I’ve read a lot of great books in the past year, and many were by friends, so I’ll abstain so as not to hurt anyone's feelings.
9. If you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be?
I’d love it if everyone read a good romance novel and a good science fiction or fantasy novel so that I no longer wear down my teeth clenching my jaw when people make fun of genre books and the people who read them.
10. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
I don’t read much literary fiction, so I’ll pass on this one.
11. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
12. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn. I doubt any movie could do this fun book justice, and the dialog is so delicious that many scenes need to be read several times before moving forward.
13. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
When I was in college, I usually spent Thanksgiving with my uncle and his family. He liked to read suspense novels, and I always read books from his library when visiting. One morning when I woke up in a strange bed in a strange room, for perhaps thirty seconds I believed I was the hero of the spy novel I had been reading the evening before.
14. What is the most lowbrow book you read as an adult?
Before the Flood, I had a fantasy book. Its tone changed from section to section, it had an gratuitous torture scene, and the plot was stupid and unoriginal, yet I I loved it for no reason I can put a finger on. I can’t remember its name.
15. What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides. I struggled long and hard through that book—in English—for an undergraduate class, and when I finished, I had no idea who won the war.
16. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've ever seen?
Once in Chicago I saw a Kabuki version of “MacBeth.”
17. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
18. Roth or Updike?
I don’t care for Roth, but haven’t read Updike.
19. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
I like David Sedaris, but haven’t read Dave Eggers.
20. Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Hard one. I’ll say Milton only because he’s the easiest read for the modern reader, although Chaucer and Shakespeare both have had more influence on me as a writer.
21. Austin or Eliot?
I am ashamed to admit I have read neither, although both Emma and Persuasion are sitting on my to-read pile.
22. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Acoustics and the physics of sound. A musician should understand these things, but I don’t.
23. What is your favorite novel?
24. Favorite play?
“Judith” by a 20th-century German playwright (again, the Flood destroyed my copy, so I don’t know who the author is. Do you?). I hated the play when I read it in 1975 or 1976, but it has stayed with me since and strongly influenced my depiction of my heroine in my forthcoming book, Like Mayflies in a Stream.
My second favorite is “Warp,” a wacky three-part so-called "science fiction epic-adventure" put on by the Organic Theater Company in Chicago. (At right, the good guy [left] fights his evil twin brother.)
25. Favorite poem?
“The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes White
26. Favorite Essay?
I'm generally not a fan of the essay.
27. Favorite short story?
""Gwilan's Harp" by Ursula Le Guin. When I read it for the first time in 1977 in Redbook, I really disliked it for what I saw as its lack of hope. With more maturity, I realized its message was the epitome of hope: No matter how much you lose, there’s always something worth living for. I’ve read it several times since for inspiration when life was bleak or meaningless.
28. Favorite work of nonfiction?
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman
29. Favorite writers?
Barbara Hambly, Ursula Le Guin, Guy Gavriel Kay, Brandon Sanderson, you, and my other writing friends
30. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
We’ll know in a hundred years or so.
31. What is your desert island book?
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
32. What are you reading now?
I usually have several books going at once, and now is no exception. I’m reading The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose on my Kindle when I’m away from home, The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie while on the elliptical machine, and The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson before bed.
I invite my blog readers to do this meme as well.