Feeling Bookish

Never let it be said I’m quick on the draw. As if any further proof is needed for how glacially I can move around the internest, 30 days ago — as in One Score & Ten More; as in a full lunar cycle; as in a month! — my favorite Pittsburgh-based grad student Carolyn Kellogg who L.A. and I miss very much tag-your-it’d me over at her blog Pinky’s Paperhaus on a literary-type meme and because I’m lame I only found out about it this morning.

Am I too late? Nevah!

1. One book that changed your life?

One? One’s tough. But had I but one single solitary story to pick I’d have to go with Allan Eckert’s The Silent Sky: The Incredible Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. It widened my very narrow highschool-aged worldview to unblinkingly understand how careless and destructive man is as a species. It made me ashamed to be human. It made me the animal champion I am today.

But I can’t leave this question without mentioning the effects John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Richard Adams’ Watership Down had on me as a writer. The third chapter of the former was pivotal in my education as a reader and writer. The latter was the assigned book for my seventh grade English class at Le Conte Junior High and I had no idea what it was about nor had I ever attempted so big a book. I remember looking at the cover after buying my copy at the much-missed Pickwick Books on Hollywood Boulevard and I was puzzled by the illustration of the rabbit on the cover. From the title I’d thought it was about the sinking of a boat. But I was hooked at Page One of the expansive and epic allegory. Not only did I become a life-long lover of books from that, but it totally made me want to write.

2. One book that you have read more than once?

Agh, all this “one” stuff: Stephen King’s The Shining (and Pat Conroy’s Lords of Discipline and Stuart Woods’ Chiefs).

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

One’s enough in this case. I’d go with the Bible. I’ve never read all of it and to be in a predicament such as that seems a prime opportunity to immerse myself, so to speak.

4. One book that made you cry?

Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell (but that’s more of a long short story, really). It goes without saying that the above-mentioned The Silent Sky, and anyone who reads Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and A.M. Rosenthal’s Thirty-Eight Witnesses and doesn’t physically mourn the respective murders of Nancy Clutter and Kitty Genovese is way too hard-hearted.

5. One book that made you laugh?

John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces — and I cried at the end of it too because when I finished it I knew I’d read all there is from him.

6. One book you wish had been written?

Howsabout two: The Impeachment of George W. Bush and Bloodless Coup: Darrell Issa, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Theft of California

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Pretty much any celebrity “memoir” from an entertainer or sports figure under 30 years of age.

8. One book you are reading currently?

I’m not very successful in the present endeavor but I’m attempting to read Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice in large part because my wife read it and looooooooved it.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

Cervantes’ Don Quixote. In the past 10 years I can’t say how many times I’ve picked it up, read the first couple pages of the prologue and put it back down. One of these years.

10. Pass it on.

I’m gonna ping my wife Susan and her mom Jeannie and then leave it up to anyone else reading this who wants to add their perspective either in the comments or on their own blog.