Jeanne at Necromancy Never Pays (what a great blog name!) sent me some questions last week to answer as part of that five questions thing that is going around. Jeanne asked me some great questions, so enjoy!
1. Have you ever bought a novel or recommended it to others based on a strong opinion or conviction you held and believed the author shared?
Quite awhile ago, my best friend bought me Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress by Susan Jane Gilman. We had this mini-tradition of randomly picking out books at used bookstores for presents, so she picked this one because it was a memoir and because she liked the cover. The book ended up inspiring my own long meditation about what it means to be a feminist and whether I could consider myself one. I’ve recommended the book to a number of people who seem to be facing the same issue because of the way it helped me sort out my own questions about that topic.
2. Are you a person who is easily swayed by the opinions of others, or would you say you’re stubborn? Has a book ever swayed you or gotten your back up?
I would say I’m easily swayed when I don’t know much about a topic, but pretty stubborn if the topic is something I have thought a lot about. I like to think I’m willing to consider arguments that are well-formed, so authors that write convincingly have a good chance of convincing me that they are correct. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a book that’s really infuriated me, but I used to get incensed at political editorials in my college newspaper.
3. If you were a fiction writer, what message would you be tempted to weave into anything you wrote? (Or do you see any message when reading one of the writers you like best?)
I’d be really tempted to write about strong women making independent choices. I’m not much of an active feminist, but I do get frustrated with books that make it seem like women want nothing more than to be in relationships or are extremely passive (Bella in Twilight, for example). I like women who are interesting and exciting and make life choices for themselves.
I’m not against books about relationships though. I think the thing feminists should be working towards is giving women a choice and then supporting all women after they make that choice. In that way, I really enjoy Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte because Jane is given the choice about her relationship with Rochester. Even though part of me doesn’t like Rochester because I think he’s manipulative, I have to like the end of tke book because that’s the moment when Jane makes the most independent choice she can.
I think I got on a little bit of a feminist-y rant thinking about the Gilman book, sorry!
4. What was the first book that changed your life? What was the last?
I don’t know what book first changed my life, but the book that changed the way I think about reading was Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Before reading that book, I knew about symbolism and analysis and stuff, but I didn’t realize how many layers a good piece of literature could have. I’m not sure about the last book, that’s a tough question!
5. Have you ever read any work of fiction that made you wish you could limit the number or the kinds of readers (for ex. no one under 12, not unless you’ve read the first book or know the historical context, etc.)?
You know, I don’t think I have! I’m not much of a “don’t read this” sort of person — I think most books have an audience, and if it’s not me then it’s probably someone else. I can think of a few books with explicit sex that I wouldn’t want kids to read before they are old enough, but nothing major comes into mind.
Wow, good questions! I didn’t do a great job answering them, but I hope it was interesting for you. Look for a new book review here tomorrow (I hope…).
Want to play? Leave a comment that says “Interview Me” with contact information, and I’ll send you a list of five questions to answer on your blog. I’m a journalist, so they’ll be good