Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Literary Maven Meme

I know I am way overdue for a history post, but this meme will have to hold you for a few more days. My personal life has been very busy and I've been devoting the few spare moments I've had to working on my novel. Poor François, last we saw of him, had just been captured and taken to Spain. He's not going anywhere anytime soon, so on to the book meme!

1. What author do you own the most books by?
Since I did a B.A. in English literature and a Ph.D. in French, I've many, many books that I had to read for classes. Numberwise, I probably have more books by the 17th century playwright Molière than anyone else, since his plays are published in separate editions. I also have most of the twentieth century novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet's works. As far as English literature goes, I own at least six of George Eliot's novels. As for lighter reading, I have all but one of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander novels.

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
I have two copies of Michelle Moran's wonderful novel The Heretic Queen--I bought one and then was lucky enough to win an autographed copy!

3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with a preposition?
A bit...remember, I was an English major!

4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Although I normally don't go for blonds, I'll have to admit Francis Crawford of Dorothy Dunnett's The Lymond Chronicles has a lot going for him. Edmond Dantès of The Count of Monte Christo isn't bad, either, although Jim Cavaziel's movie portrayal of him factors heavily into that! And then, of course, there's Gabriel Orland, the male lead in my own novel The Measure of Silence.

5. What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding children's picture books)?
Probably Gone with the Wind. I first read that novel in eighth grade and have read it several times since. It was the book that first interested me in historical fiction. I don't reread books often (there are too many books I haven't read even once yet!), but others I have read multiple times are the Kristin Lavransdattir trilogy by Sigrid Undset and the first three books of the Lymond Chronicles.

6. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Hmmm, hard to remember back that far, but I'd have to say The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. I was in the typical young girl's "horse stage" then and read all of the Black Stallion series.

7. What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
There have been two novels set in sixteenth century France that I tried to read and couldn't make it past the first couple of chapters. I'd rather not name names, though.

8. What is the best book you've read in the last year?
I'm in the last few pages of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle and LOVE it. I was curious because of all the hype surrounding the book and didn't expect to like it, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I also enjoyed Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill, Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett, and After This by Alice McDermott.

9. If you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be?
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis.

10. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
Alice McDermott or Irène Némirovsky.

11. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

12. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Since I don't see many movies, it really doesn't matter to me.

13. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I have very vivid dreams, but I can't remember ever having one about any of these topics!

14. What is the most lowbrow book you read as an adult?
I have so little free time that I have to make every reading minute count, but I will admit to reading my fair share of bodice rippers as a teen.

15. What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
I'd have to say many of Robbe-Grillet's books because of my distaste for the subject matter. I've always found Michel de Montaigne's Essais slow going because of the style.

16. What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've ever seen?
Henry V. Confession: much to my shame, I've never read or even seen MacBeth!

17. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
Need you ask? [smile] Although I do adore Russian novels.

18. Roth or Updike?
I've never read either one.

19. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Again, I've never read either. I do own a copy of An Astonishing Work of Staggering Genius, but I haven't read it yet.

20. Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Whew, more my time period. Chaucer, I suppose; Shakespeare loses out because I really don't like reading drama. I do have a certain fondness for Milton ever since I wrote my high school senior English term paper on "The Vilification of Eve in Paradise Lost." Always loved that title.

21. Austin or Eliot?
Eliot, by a landslide. Eliot is one of my all-time favorite authors; I've read all of her novels except Felix Holt. I totally can't get in to Austin and have never understood what the Austin fuss is all about.

22. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
There are large gaps in my familiarity with modern literature (post WW II). I have serious problems with the hopeless outlook and moral relativity of many modern works and have a hard time reading them. I also know next to nothing about the literature of the Spanish speaking world.

23. What is your favorite novel?

The Kristin Lavransdattir trilogy by Sigrid Undset. You have to read the entire trilogy to understand the greatness of this book. Don't stop after the first volume, which sets up the rest of the story.

24. Favorite play?
The Jeweler's Shop by Karol Wojtyla

25. Favorite poem?
The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

26. Favorite Essay?
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

27. Favorite short story?
"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry

28. Favorite work of nonfiction?
Renaissance Warrior and Patron: The Reign of Francis I by R. J. Knecht.

29. Favorite writers?
Sigrid Undset; Alice McDermott; Dorothy Dunnett; J.R. Tolkien

30. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
"If you can't say something nice..."

31. What is your desert island book?
The Return of the King by J.R. Tolkien

32. What are you reading now?
Almost finished with The Gargoyle; next up is The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie and Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones.

I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you answer the meme on your own blog, please post a link!


Susan Higginbotham said...

That looks like a fun one!

Julianne Douglas said...

Go for it!

Hannah Furst said...

I recently saw your post about Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française. I wanted to pass along some information on an exciting exhibition about Némirovsky's life, work, and legacy at the Museum of Jewish Heritage —A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City. Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française, which will run through August 2009, includes powerful rare artifacts —including the valise in which the original manuscript for Suite Française was found, as well as many personal papers and family photos. The majority of these documents and artifacts have never been outside of France. For fans of her work, this exhibition is an opportunity to really “get to know” Irene. And for those who can’t visit, there is a special website devoted to her story www.mjhnyc.org/irene.

Book clubs and groups are invited to the Museum for tours and discussions in the exhibition’s adjacent Salon (by appointment). It is the Museum’s hope that the exhibit will engage visitors and promote dialogue about this extraordinary writer and the complex time in which she lived and died. To book a group tour, please contact Chris Lopez at 646.437.4304 or clopez@mjhnyc.org.

Please visit our website at www.mjhnyc.org for up-to-date information about upcoming public programs or to join our e-bulletin list. Thanks for sharing this info with your readers. If you need any more, please do not hesitate to contact me at hfurst@mjhnyc.org

Julianne Douglas said...

Hannah, what a wonderful website and tribute to Irène! Thank you for sharing it with us. I wish I could go in person to view the exhibit. If anyone does go, please come back and tell us about it!

Anonymous said...

Julianne, I hope you will post reviews of both Enchantress of Florence and Cathedral of the Sea!

And maybe you should give MacBeth a try. Ambition pushed to madness, deep marital love, a Faustian pact with the forces of darkness... A universal tale. I loved the Polanski and Kurosawa film adaptations, and also enjoyed Ionesco's take on it.

Lynn Irwin Stewart said...

I found this on Susan Higginbotham's blog and have posted it on my own! Fun! I'll visit your blog again!

Anonymous said...

This is fun! I've answered some of the questions and saved the rest for later. It's going to be a three-part epic.

Shauna Roberts said...

I enjoyed the meme and did it myself at my own blog last week: http://shaunaroberts.blogspot.com/2009/03/literary-maven-meme.html

Julianne Douglas said...

Lynn, Cinderella and Shauna, I'll be sure to read your answers!

Danja said...

I really enjoyed reading the Q&A session, it gave me some ideas on what to add to my ever expanding To Read list. Also, I posted my own answers on my blog: http://www.after5blog.com
or http://after5blog.com/2009/04/29/literary-maven-meme/