[R]evolving Incarnations: A Questionnaire For Passionate Readers is an interview series done in classic Q&A format. Each entry features one intrepid writer/blogger/artist/creative mastermind as they take on the same 40 reading-themed questions and scenarios. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section!
R.A. Kerr is the writer behind the amazing classic movie blog, Silver Screenings.
- What book have you always wanted to read, but haven’t? Why? The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. Once I start it, I know I’ll do nothing else until I finish. No blogging, no socializing, no tooth-brushing. That’s quite a commitment.
- What is your favourite line or passage from a book? “The mystery of wood is not that it burns, but that it floats.”-from “Fugitive Pieces” by Anne Michaels. In a novel full of mystery, this single line reminded me that there is mystery in the ordinary. We only need to look.
- Who do you think is the most underrated author? Ray Robertson, author of “What Happened Later.” Genius.
- What is your pick for the most underrated book? “A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City” by Anonymous. This is the true, gut-wrenching account of how one woman survived the Russian occupation of Berlin in the waning days of WWII.
- If you could make everyone in the world read one book, what would it be? “A Fair Country” by John Raulston Saul. To me, this book best explains the elusive “Canadian Identity.”
- Is there a book you wish you had written? “How to Make an American Quilt” by Whitney Otto. There were times I couldn’t breathe for the beauty and cleverness of her writing.
- What are you currently reading? “Things I’ve Been Silent About” by Iranian-American writer Azar Nafisi. It’s a fascinating look at her life in pre-and-post revolutionary Iran.
- How many books do you have in rotation at any one time? Just one. I can’t read more than one at a time, otherwise I get all the characters mixed-up.
- What is the funniest book you’ve read? The funniest one I’ve read lately is “99 Classic Movies for People in a Hurry,” a series of cartoons that recaps classic films in just four frames.
- What is the saddest book you’ve read? “The Freedom Writers Diary” by The Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell. Keep the tissue handy.
- What is the last book you couldn’t put down? “Bring on the Empty Horses” by David Niven, a tender look at the people behind the movies during the Golden Age of Hollywood. If you’re looking for a juicy tell-all, this ain’t it.
- When you are reading a great book, do you read it all of the way through as fast as possible or hoard it for as long as you can? I read great books at break-neck speed. I can’t put them down! Confession: I always read the end of the book after I’ve read the first two chapters. Always.
- What book have you re-read the most? “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. This is my fave book about writing.
- Who is your pick for sexiest character in fiction? No other fictional character could match Sergeant Mike Flannigan from “Mrs. Mike” by Benedict and Nancy Mars Freedman, whom I discovered as a dreamy teenage girl.
- Approximately how many books do you read in a year? Normally around 30 books a year.
- Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Non-fiction. I’m very picky about fiction; if I don’t like the ending, I won’t finish the book. (See confession, above.)
- If you could swap places with your favourite fictional character, would you? Explain your choice. Nancy Drew. She’s smart and brave, and has lots of adventures. Plus, there is an outfit for every occasion in her closet.
- What is your favourite literary food or meal? Any meal from “A Year in Provence” or “A Year in Tuscany.”
- Where is your favourite place to read? We live in a small mountain town, and near our house is a trail that cuts along the side of a mountain slope. Someone has built a perfect reading bench along this trail. Sadly, I have not been there for a week due to cougar sightings. (I’d probably make an unsatisfying meal for a cougar, but one never knows about these things until it’s too late.)
- What is your favourite bookstore? Larry Edmunds Bookstore in Hollywood. It’s impossible to leave without an armload of books.
- Name six writers, living or dead, you would want as companions on a non-stop, cross-country road trip. Claire Moffat, Jon Krakauer, Sophie Kinsella, Pete McCarthy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and my friend Alison, who recently self-published her first book.
- Do you have a favourite and a least favourite genre? Fave Genre: Biography/Least Fave Genre: Poorly-written books by semi-literate authors.
- What is the longest period you have gone without reading a book? About a month, and it was a month of not reading ANYTHING. It was a difficult, chaotic time.
- Name three literary characters you would want as roommates. Any three characters from “Microserfs” by Douglas Coupland. They’re a quirky bunch.
- What was your favourite book as a child? “Gone-Away Lake” and “Return to Gone-Away” by Elizabeth Enright. The books are about two children who discover an abandoned town whose only inhabitants are an elderly brother and sister. It’s a weird (and unlikely) premise, but I couldn’t get enough of these stories as a kid.
- What is your favourite literary city? New York. I first became fascinated with it as a kid when I read “The Cricket in Times Square” by George Selden. New York sounded like the most vibrant, fascinating place-which it is.
- Name your favourite Brontë. Anne, because I read “Agnes Grey” for the first time a few months ago and it put me in a very good mood.
- What is your favourite e-commerce site for books? Amazon. For all their faults, they make book shopping very easy.
- What is your favourite pen name? Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.
- What is your favourite closing line in a book? I admire the writing of the prolific and cheeky Pierre Berton, who always ends his books succinctly, like a neatly-wrapped gift. Here is an example, the final sentence from “The Last Spike”: “The official party obediently boarded the cars and a few moments later the little train was in motion again, clattering over the newly laid rail and over the last spike and down the long incline of the mountains, off towards the dark canyon of the Fraser, off to the broad meadows beyond, off to the blue Pacific and into history.”
- Do you prefer owls or elephants? Elephants. Thanks to Alfred Hitchcock, I don’t really trust birds.
- Do you have any reading rituals? Reading, to me, is thirsty work. I need to have a large drink at the ready.
- Who is your favourite literary couple? I have a real soft spot for Calvin Trillin and his wife Alice, as portrayed in “Travels with Alice.”
- Who is your favourite poet? Canadian poet Bronwen Wallace. I especially love her collection of poems in “Signs of the Former Tenant.”
- What is your favourite poem? “A Guide to Perfection” by Kevin Ireland, from “An Anthology of Twentieth Century New Zealand Poetry” (1976). Come to think of it, this whole anthology is one of my faves. I bought it second-hand and, happily for me, the previous owner had left several scholarly notes about symbolism in the margins.
- Do you have a favourite film adaptation? I adore the 1974 adaptation of “The Great Gatsby.” “The Life of Pi” was surprisingly well done, too.
- What book title would make a great band name? “Three Day Road.” (Ed. By Joseph Boyden.)
- What is your favourite quote? “Never explain, never retract, never apologize. Just get the thing done and let them howl.”-Nellie McClung, Canadian Suffragette
- What is your favourite book series? Thomas Cahill’s “Hinges of History” series, which includes “How the Irish Saved Civilization” and “Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea.”
- Finish this sentence. People who read books are…the most interesting conversationalists.
THANK YOU SO MUCH, R.A.!
Another book or two added to my list. Good questions, maedez. Thanks.
It is always my goal to add books to people’s reading lists, so job well done me! Thanks.
I now have to check out the Gone-Away series, just out of curiosity, plus the Hinges of History series has piqued my interest, along with quite a few others. Book reading is never ending (thankfully). I love this whole question and answer process – really makes you think.
It made me think coming up with the questions, too. I am really curious about other people’s reading habits, as you well know!
very interesting interview.. love the closing question!
Thanks! I love to find out what other people read, so I do this series for selfish reasons. I am glad others like it, though. 🙂
Nice! I rather enjoyed “Life of Pi” too. It was neat.
I’ve not seen it yet, but I’ve heard nice things.
I just shouted at my laptop: MRS MIKE. !! Holy God, I read that book over and over. Oh, thanks for reminding me — my copy had a blue cover, the turquoise end of the spectrum… and white type? Wow, wow…
I am glad ASPL readers have some eccentric preferences in common. 🙂
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