Friday, 31 October 2008

Book Meme

Haven't done a meme for a long time; where did they all go? (n.b. I know I've asked this before, and it does seem as though what appeared, in 2005, to be a constitutive feature of blogging was actually a passing fad [or perhaps that should be a sub-fad, since blogs are clearly highly faddish themselves] but I miss them and I wish people would send me good ones.) I got this meme from Rohan whose excellent blog, I have reason to believe, would be enjoyed by a number of people who read here.

Rohan did hers on the weekend but I am doing mine instead of marking essays.

What was the last book you bought?

It was The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester ($1.99 at Savers) who writes very good articles in the LRB. When I had a good look at it I was a little bit intimidated by the superlatively excellent comments from critics plastered thickly on front and back covers and on the first four pages. But when I read a few pages it seemed to be a sort of Pale Fire about food writing. I wonder if Zoe's read it.

Name a book you have read MORE than once.

Let's make that 'name a book you have read MORE than ten times': Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Brideshead Revisited, Billy Budd, Sailor, Lucky Jim, Little Women, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, Heart of Darkness, Possession, Wuthering Heights, White Noise, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Washington Square.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

Not any one single book. I think that reading Jane Austen has fundamentally shaped the way I think about life and what I think people are. And I think that Mary McCarthy has taught me a great deal about the absolute necessity (and simultaneous impossibility) of being ruthlessly and disinterestedly honest with yourself, about yourself.

How do you choose a book? e.g. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews?

Recommendations for fiction; scholarly and nonfiction usually by reviews; if it's Mansfield Park I am really only interested in the book design.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Oh, fiction, without a doubt.

What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

If that is a real question, then gripping plot. Ugly writing is perfectly fine with me. 'Beautiful' writing sometimes covers a multitude, as they say.

Most loved/memorable character?

Anne Elliot and Roland Michell. Always the quiet ones.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

The abovementioned Lanchester; The Steele Diaries by Wendy James; The Great Feminist Denial by Monica Dux & Zora Simic; a seed catalogue.

What was the last book you read?
The Dux & Simic one, which Zoe sent me, complete with terse marginalia. I am still trying to figure out what the title actually means, and what the book is about.

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?

I wander in and out of books sometimes but that's not quite the same thing as giving up. Unfortunately if a book is really hurting me I don't like to let it win. Reverse psychology, I know. I was recently defeated by a novel called None But You which is a retelling of Persuasion from Wentworth's point of view. It took several frustrated attempts to get all the way through Pierre, or The Ambiguities, doubly frustrating because I found I couldn't pick it up where I left off but instead had to start again from the beginning each time.


Pavlov's Cat said...

Oh I'm gonna be up past midnight tonight ...

Mel said...

I am reading Persuasion through DailyLit at the moment.

Also, I will shortly begin to re-read Possession, I am with you on the Roland Michell thing. Aaron Eckhart was horribly miscast in the film version.

Zoe said...

I re-read all my battered Austen paperbacks when I was breastfeeding tiny Jethro round the clock in the early days, so I hope some got in.

I haven't read that Lanchester book, which sounds well worth the $1.99. Bet I wouldn't have to write "bullshit!" in the margin there.

These kind of Q&A memes seem to have been overtaken by giving other bloggers "awards" which strikes me as very primary-schoolish. Memes are rampant in the food blogging world, but are called "events" or structured as carnivals. Some, like another outspoken female's "inside the fridge" one are the best kind of pervy self disclosing bloggery, but many seem to be link fishing. A long time ago now Anthony of spiceblog set up the "End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza" as a joke, but it took off for a while.

Benrice said...

Oh goody - lurve booky ones...

Ms Ulat Buku said...

Thanks for the meme. Am new to blogging and have posted my meme based on your q's. Thanks a lot!

Zoe said...

Well, I can't compete with a name like Ms Ulat Buku. Absolutely top drawer, that one.

But really coming back to say that I bought a beautiful HB copy of the John Lancaster book at the Lifeline bookfair today for $4, and I couldn't be more pleased.