Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

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I'll see your meme, and raise you five

I don't usually do the "Friday Five" memes, because it seems so much a "joiner" kind of thing, and I reluctantly admit here and now that I am not really a joiner. But I always liked that Rose McGowan said words to the effect that part of the reason she accepted a part on the TV show "Charmed" was that she didn't want to be the kind of indie actress who says with a sneer "TV? No way!", so she decided to take a series offer when it arose. Similarly, as this week's "Friday Five" is literary, and a lot of kids play lots of weeks, all over the weblogoverse, I think this is a good one to join in.

1. What is the first book you remember reading?

Aside from Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham, I'd have to say a Hardy Boys mystery (neither vintage nor modern, but the in-between era of late 50s/early 60s re-issues of the original stories, the mid 60s being by coincidence my earliest childhood reading years)--perhaps "The Great Airport Mystery" or something about a clock, although I get the clock title mixed up, that may be a Nancy Drew, which I did not read.

2. What is your favorite book?

If one judged by frequency of re-reading, one might say "The Lord of the Rings", "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" or a number of Wodehouse's Jeeves/Wooster books. But I think that the book that captures my imagination most is "The Masters", by C.P. Snow. This novel about an election at an English college uses the plot as a metaphor to illustrate 2 disparate but interesting ideas. One is the notion that the politics of small groups are a creature entirely different from politics writ large. The second is the interesting way that taking a strident position can involve one in a dangerous certainty, which the novelist shows, almost insidiously and with a very pleasing subtlety, can be a devotion in certainty to the wrong side.

3. Who is your favorite author?

I'd have to say that Jane Austen is my favorite author, because although in many ways I prefer Trollope's church satires, Austen's subtlety and wit appeals to me a great deal.

4. Pick up the nearest book (magazine or any available printed material will do). Turn to page 24 (or the closest to it). Go to the 7th line. What is it?

"Wannop? It could not be. There were no instances of import--".

5. If you could be any character in literature, who would you be?

If I were a character in literature, I would almost certainly be Christopher Tietjens, from Ford Madox Ford's "Parade's End" trilogy of novels. It's funny, because I am anything but The Last Tory, as Tietjens is made out to be. But I always have that sense of being somewhat out of place wherever I am, and of having values that do not match the prevailing mood. I am usually more attracted to novels about plot than about the "consciousness within" of some novels, but to me, the first fifty pages or so of the first novel of this great series, "Some Do Not", are about as good as literature gets. I'd guess my "demon twin" would be Pierre in "War and Peace".

Now the questions they didn't ask:

6. Name ten novelists who come to your mind right off the bat as folks you love to read--no snobbery permitted:

1. JRR Tolkien
2. Trollope
3. CP Snow
4. Tolstoi
5. Austen
6. Wodehouse
7. James Herriott
8. James Hilton
9. Miss Read
10.Dorothy Sayers
11. FM Ford, to err on the side of excess

7. Name three poets that come to mind that matter to you, no "grad seminar mugging" permitted:

1. Wilfrid Owen
2. Siegfried Sassoon
3. Carolyn Forche'

8. What three non-fiction books made a deep impression on you?

Gandhi's Autobiography
Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship
I.A. Horowitz's How to Win in the Chess Opening

9. What three science fiction authors intrigue you this moment?
Frank Herbert
Octavia Butler
Robert Heinlein

10. What is the last mystery novel you read?

"The Immaterial Murder Case", by Julian Symonds.

It's fun to meme, really.

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