Book survey. Because surveys are all I, an MFA in fiction writing graduate student, am capable of writing.
1) What author do you own the most books by?
Plath, hands down. And I probably have three times as many books about Plath as that.
2) What book do you own the most copies of?
Ariel, because I have both the restored and the original versions of the text. Otherwise, I only have multiple copies of books when I read them on my own before I had to buy them for a particular class and needed some specific edition.
3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Prepositions at the end of questions are somehow more kosher than when they end non-interrogative sentences.
4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Uncas in Last of the Mohicans, but this is really more related to the movie than the book. I wouldn't say no to the young Almasy in The English Patient.
5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
Easy, easy, question--If You Only Knew by Rachel Vail. The most honest and true thing I've ever read about being...I was going to say about being a kid, but really, it's the most honest thing I've read about being at all.
6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Harriet the Spy and/or The Egypt Game
7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Have to say I was amazed at how much I disliked Safe Conduct by Boris Pasternak and Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick.
8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
Best book I hadn't read before was The Crying of Lot 49 by Pynchon; I want to find a way to stage a production of The Courier's Tragedy this summer. Best book I already knew about was Moby-Dick, which never fails to astonish me in its amazingly grandiose prose and scope and imagination--what a strange and wonderful piece of work.
9) If you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be?
I'm more interested in people READING than in reading anything in particular, but I think we all need to read more experimental, weird, difficult literature, things as invested in making with words as in sturdy, wholesome storytelling.
10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
A really good version of Ringworld or Hyperion, just to make my dad happy.
12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Anything else related to Plath in any way. There's talk of The Bell Jar being made again, and I think the movie could potentially be good, but I'm so sick Plath being known for that when it's really her least interesting work in so many ways, and brings the wrong sort of reductive fangirl attention to her. Says the ultimate Plath fangirl.
13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
Aww, this is actually my favorite dream ever, probably. So, I'm sitting on the top of a particularly verdant hill watching the clouds, when up rolls the cartoon head of Virginia Woolf. I start asking her all these questions about writing, and she says to me, "Emma, that's not what's important. Tell me about this boy you like."
14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
Lowbrow, eh? Hmm. I'm pretty snobby about what I read. The most chick lit-y things I've read have actually been the things I edited back when I worked for the literary agency. Otherwise, I dunno, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? (Awful, by the way). Oh, wait, no, I know! SIsterhood of the Traveling Pants!!! All four of them! By the end, they basically digress into softcore porn; the last one should really be titled Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Who Hasn't Lost Her Virginity Yet?
15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Maurice Blanchot's Thomas the Obscure which I just read for class was pretty inaccessible, but then, I wasn't trying very hard. I guess Ulysses, simply because the task is so monumental. I actually like the process of using all the notes and The Bloomsday Book to work through it; I just wish I were a faster reader.
16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
None too obscure-- I've seen a couple of the switched twins and crossdressers variety.
17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I have never really read anything Russian aside from Nabokov, but I truly despise Flaubert. Give me American lit or give me death.
18) Roth or Updike?
Roth! Updike was a sweetheart of a guy by all accounts, but what manly and dated books, no?
19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Sedaris, but specifically Sedaris reading Sedaris on "This American Life." I think Nick Hornby is funnier than either of them.
20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Shakespeare, but I give a shoutout to Milton for "Lycidas"
21) Austen or Eliot?
As in George Eliot? George Eliot<Austen<T.S. Eliot
22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
All things Russian. Lolita.
23) What is your favorite novel?
The English Patient and The Great Gatsby can duke it out for 1st place
So not into plays, but I do like Cyrano de Bergerac, and I want to say that I really like The Tempest but I have not actually read that, so that would be completely fraudulent. I was sort of surprizingly taken by Othello and Lovelock's Dream Run, this modern NZ play.
"The Night Dances," Sylvia Plath, but Autobiography of Red ties or is in close second if I can count a novel in verse
The part of Emile Benveniste's Subject of Semiotics on the speaking "I". I also really dig Steven Gould Axelrod's reading of "Ocean 1212-W" by Plath. And all things genre theory are great.
27) Short story?
"How to Be a Writer" by Lorrie Moore and "The Barber's Unhappiness" by George Saunders
28) Work of nonfiction?
The Spy's Guidebook.
29) Who is your favorite writer?
Plath, Michael Ondaatje, Anne Carson
30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
I'm with Jorden that J-Co is pretty overrated. Eggers is fine, but whatever. As much as I love Jhumpa Lahiri, I think we're all quietly agreed at this point that she's a one trick pony. Underrated is a more interesting question, and I'd have to go with John Irving. As desperately as he needs at times to be reigned in, his real interest in storytelling is I think unparalleled in modern writers.
31) What is your desert island book?
The English Patient
32) And... what are you reading right now?
Cassandra by Christa Wolfe for class. Swann's Way, theoretically, for my long-distance book group with friends from Wesleyan. Been trying to finish Little Women,St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (which I LOVE), and a biography of Julia Child since December. I need more time for reading in my life.