09 October 2006

The "one book" meme

Bud tossed this in my direction and I'm torn between delight and chagrin. I've always hated making lists like this--how in the world am I to pick only ONE? But I'll take it to mean "one of many" and so I'll give it a shot and will try to post it as quickly as possible to keep me from changing my mind a billion times and spending five hours on it...

1. One book that changed your life?

Annie Dillard's An American Childhood. First read it when I was 18--had I read it a couple of years previous to this, I would've been spared a lot of heartache. I have yet to read a more accurate account of what it's like to perceive the world as a child and an adolescent. Pure magic. It rescued me from a suffocating private isolation and articulated all the things I never thought I'd find words for. Brilliant. (Honorable mention: Salinger's Franny and Zooey.)

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

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. This was the first candidate for the question above, but since I've read it eight times, here she is. I was 13 when I first picked this one up--and have carried it with me ever since.

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

T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. I could spend years getting to the bottom of this thing...and love every minute.

4. One book that made you cry?

Dostoevsky's novella, "A Gentle Creature" (which can be found in here). Part of his genius lies in communicating a deep compassion for humanity even while portraying the inhuman things we do to each other.

5. One book that made you laugh?

The inevitable: John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Many times I was sure I'd pass out from lack of oxygen...

6. One book you wish had been written?

Bud already said what I would've (and for the same reasons), so I'll go with Dickens' The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Charles aping his pal Wilkie? Who knows? Even better is reading what exists of this unfinished novel in the context of The D. Case: Or the Truth About the Mystery of Edwin Drood. Imagine Father Brown, Poirot, Holmes, Petrovich, Marlowe, and other detectives going straight from the page to a conference in Rome where they have to collectively pool their little grey cells to figure out how Dickens would've ended it if he'd lived long enough... The result is far from perfect, but highly intriguing nonetheless.

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Ok, I'll say it: The Da Vinci Code. The dumbing-down of culture continues... (And did United Statesians really need yet one more reason to look like idiots while traveling Europe?)

8. One book you are reading currently?

Richard Powers' Plowing the Dark. It's only the second novel of his I've read, but I adore this writing. I'm trying to not get too jealous of those who live in the same country as The Echo Maker...

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

José Saramago's La caverna. I have yet to read Saramago (the shock! the horror!), but I miraculously found a used copy here in town and thought it'd be good to try him in Spanish first (plus he seems to be quite popular 'round here). We shall see.

10. Pass it on:

Anne at Fernham (Missed you while you were away!)

(And thank you dear Anon. for the added nudge to nip the procrastination disease in the bud.)


Anne said...

Duly tagged! A good meme. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Saramago should be read in Spanish if you don't know Portuguese, but the English translations are excellent. Blindness is one of the most powerful, memorable books I've ever read. And you're welcome, glad you played along.