Sunday 4 May 2008

The Reading Lamp: the inaugural post (applause, please!)

Welcome to the first post of's new feature, The Reading Lamp! This is the "interview other readers" segment I recently promised and now you can see I am sometimes able to follow through - at LIGHTENING SPEED. I can't promise that the Live Reading Cam I've been thinking of will be set up as quickly, I'm afraid.

This post's subject, Brook, only answers about 10 questions but I gave him more than 20 to choose from, and that's how this will go from now on. Part of what's interesting for me is seeing what questions people will choose to answer; the only ones that everyone has to answer are the first three. Enjoy!

Your name:

What are you reading now?
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

Where are you reading it?
On many subways in Toronto, and occasionally on my couch.

How did you discover this book?
Saw it around a fair bit, mostly in used book-stores. I quite enjoyed The Cryptonomicon, so I reckoned it was a safe bet to be a good read.

What do you think of it so far?
Quite good. I think I prefer Cryptonomicon, but this has a bit more ribald, silly fun, which is always a plus.

What would your ideal desert island book be?
If I hadn’t read it already, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 years of Solitude. I’d never feel alone and it isn’t part of a trilogy or something, which would totally suck as I’d never get a chance to read the next book and would have to live life knowing that I’d forever be in suspense. I feel that way sometimes about George R.R. Martin, and I’m not even on an island.

What writer do you think should be zapped out of history/existence and their works therefore never written?
I’d say Margaret Atwood, but I don’t think Canadian literary identity can be blamed upon the meanderings of a single writer who should’ve stuck to poetry or bile production. Some will ask “Is there a Canadian literary identity?” and join that pretend discussion of why there is no identity, when really that identity is a self-absorbed, snot-nosed, “sensitive” 16-year-old trapped in a righteous third-year Liberal Arts major’s daddy-hating, paradigm-bemoaning, journal-as-a-verb-and-form-of-empowerment body. I mean really, that isn’t Atwood’s fault; in fact, I bet she’s a bit embarrassed by the whole thing.

There are some witty Coupland-esque writers I could veto, just because the sartorial sub-sub-culture they catered to has had to “read way less since the baby” and I feel pity for them. Maybe if those Sport-Utility-Prams came with a book-pouch instead of a value-added latte-holder upgrade, they wouldn’t be so down.

Nope, I’ll say it is a toss up between Robert Jordan and the literary putz who wrote/writes the Celestine books. Because I can’t eliminate an entire genre, I’ll stick with Robert Jordan, for the obvious reasons.

What book would you like to put into a mine shaft and blown up? Why?
Tuesdays with the Celestine Motorcycle. Unlike Invasion of the Body Snatchers, you probably can’t kill them all by finding the first one. Ergo, mash them all together and blow them up. I won’t blow up a Jordan book because that might have an environmental impact on the water table.

What's your favourite either unknown or under-appreciated book?
On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin.

The most nightmarish and/or hilarious literary collaboration you can imagine?
Toni Morrison and Neal Stephenson, and they have to write alternate sentences and promise to be nice to each other.

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