February 23, 2009

A Writerly Meme-ish Thing.

I recently read an interview with Welsh author Rhys Hughes on a social network I belong to, and in the third part of his interview he decided to turn a few questions back onto the reading audience, as well as revealing a bit about himself in answering his own questions. I thought it might be appropriate and (hopefully) interesting to post my answers here. Check the link for the full text of the questions; some are rather long and I've only reprinted the relevant bits.

1. What is the most unusual (or memorable) profession that any of your known ancestors ever had?

I don't actually know a lot about my ancestors--there aren't a lot of records on my dad's side, and I only have records on my mom's side for the Czechoslovakian part of the family, and they had a number of less interesting professions like farming and steelworking and such. But my maternal great-grandmother, the one who was probably French Canadian, was a small-time serial scam artist. As kids, my grandmother and her siblings were routinely recruited as the agents of her and her husband's scams--selling stuff door-to-door, mainly, but also putting counterfeit coins into the money stream. They had to move around a lot. Also, I'm told the great-great-grandmother on that side was some kind of chorus girl, but that information is unconfirmed.

2. What unfashionable authors (if any) do you still champion?

This is a tough one...the only one I can think of, and I can't say he's totally unfashionable, is Michael Ondaatje. The English Patient was truly huge for a while, but now nobody seems to have heard of him. I haven't seen the movie but the book is one of my favorites. I think his writing is incredible, intelligent, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

3. What books do you own that you know you'll never read?

I have to admit that most of the books on my shelves that I know I'll never read were lent to me by other people, like Michael Crichton's State of Fear. Or, in cases like Anatomy of a Typeface by Alexander Lawson, they were given to me well-meaning by someone and are so low on the TBR pile that they are unlikely to be read, ever. Sorry.

4. Do you regularly read e-books or not?

No, I don't. However, I foresee a time that I might read more e-books--if e-book readers get less expensive, and the quality continues to improve, I will likely switch to e-books for some of my reading. I'm actually much more interested in the idea of e-magazines and e-newspapers. Also, will libraries ever lend out e-books? How would that work? Essentially, I feel that this is something I'm not quite ready to do yet, but from a conservationist standpoint, it's probably important. However, there will always, always be certain books that I will want to have on paper--there is a feel, a smell, to books, a tactile experience not present with e-books. And as someone who makes handmade artists' books, I feel very strongly about that, too.

5. The fact that writing is such a sedate occupation means I'm always fascinated by the attempts of certain authors to infuse physical vigour into their prose... What writers, if any, have made you take to the hills or the lakes or the moors, etc?

This is an odd one. I'm not sure how to answer. I guess either I don't think about books in the way that they make me feel about the outside environment, or I tend to read more books about the internal environment...but I have to say that any books set in the UK tend to inspire a longing for a return trip. Also, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance--you have to be rather hard of heart, I think, for that book to not inspire even the tiniest bit of longing to experience the solitude and thoughtfulness of the open road and the open sky (quite apart from the motorcycle bit--I am NOT a fan of riding motorcycles).

6. Has any work of fiction ever taught you a practical skill?

I love this question. It's just that I'm having trouble thinking of something. I have learned tons of information and facts from works of fiction. I know that my answer is yes, though. One thing I set out to learn to do because of fiction was bake bread (the yeast kind)--after reading Robin McKinley's Sunshine, in which the character is a baker, I got inspired.

So--if you decide to participate in the meme, post a link in the comments!

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