Wednesday 5 November 2008

The Reading Lamp: and the prize for most atmospheric profile photo goes to...

...Yuri! Yuri sent me three pictures from which to choose for posting alongside his Reading Lamp interview and the one below won for me hands down.

I love the way the lights glow eerily in the background, the way everything but the lights are dark (Yuri's shirt, the sky lowering over the street, and especially the book itself), and the way it looks like some passerby just caught him, in the dead of night, on a dark street corner engrossed in a book that is about dark streets that both invite and warn against lingering. Perfect.

All you Haligonians, post- and present: quick, quick, at what intersection is Yuri standing in this photo??

Your name: Yuri van der Leest

What are you reading now? Jack Maggs, by Peter Carey

Where are you reading it? Primarily in Halifax coffee shops: Just Us on Spring Garden and the Trident Booksellers & Cafe.

How did you discover this book? I first read Peter Carey’s The Tax Inspector in an undergrad English course, and have been slowly savouring his other works ever since.

What do you think of it so far? I am really enjoying it. The London depicted in this novel makes me think that David Copperfield could just wander in and feel at home. I love the way that Carey sketches his city through the habits and haunts of manifold eccentric characters.

What would your ideal desert island book be? I have to say that I have fond memories of my Norton Anthology of Literature (since lost to younger siblings marching through first-year English classes of their own). While the brevity of attention given to any one author, period or even publication would surely become frustrating, I imagine that the wide variety of content and sheer volume of literary tidbits in this tome would keep me occupied whenever I wasn’t constructing tree house mansions and coconut radios…

What book would you like to put into a mine shaft and blow up? Why? During my MA, I was assigned Sara Jeannette Duncan’s The Imperialist (shudder). Now all of her other novels could be masterpieces of early Canadiana, but I am not willing to take the risk involved in finding out. Let The Imperialist be blown to smithereens and then trampled by a horde of bison running amok!

Favourite childhood book? I was all about Rupert the Bear: the science fiction of jet packs, aeroplanes and autogiros; the adventure of Zeppelins flying to remote lakes in high mountain ranges; and the magic of flying carpets and enchanted princesses…

Do you buy books or borrow them from the library? Either way, what is your favourite place to get books and why? I buy my books for the most part. In Portland, Oregon, I was all about Powell’s Books (the world’s largest independent new and used bookstore) and so far in Halifax I have been haunting Trident Booksellers and Back Pages. Really I am happy with any used bookstore with a good selection that is well organized—digging through piles of books for literary treasure is a wonderfully romantic idea, but in reality such piles are dusty and ultimately defeat me.

How do you decide what to read next? If someone has not recommended a good book to me lately, I go back to a reliable and well-loved author and continue through his or her repertoire.

Favourite author? Why? Haruki Murakami. His imagined worlds are tinged with the sadness and isolation of modern existence, but show how the simplest and oddest little things can bring people together.

Favourite and/or least favourite literary time period? Why? Modern/post-modern literature grabbed hold of me during my undergrad and never let go. It was amazing to see the unvarnished essence of the world laid out before me in a way that I related to directly and understood instinctively—without a neat framework of religion or cultural norms to oversimplify it.

I made a few friends in this world early on, including Stephan Dedalus in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Pat, Toby and Zoe in The Edge of the Alphabet; Mrs. Dalloway in the eponymous novel…

Who do you talk to about books? Kristin, my very cool sister living in Belgium; Colleen, the keeper of this tribute to the printed word; and my friend Scott “the law talking guy” here in Halifax.

Best movie adaptation of a book ever made? The movie version of The Outsiders was perfection—each character exactly as I had imagined them and the city as gritty as S.E. Hinton describes. High points also go to Out of Africa, which I feel captured the essence of the book despite the need to impose linearity on an essentially non-linear narrative and the bow to Hollywood by greatly exaggerating the role of the romantic relationship between Baroness Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton.


Anonymous said...

At the foot of Spring Garden Rd, on Barrington St!

It is a nice photo.

What do I win for guessing right?


Bookphilia said...

Right you are, Wayne! How about a copy of Jack Maggs?

Yuri... said...

hmm ... I happen to have a copy that I am almost done with :)