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romp with joy in the bookish dark.

(1) Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate it.

(2) Books meme nicked offa sophia_helix I used to self-define as a reader and I don't think it's true any longer. That's sort of disturbing, really.

1. What's your name?
Infinitemonkeys here. Other things in other places. In proper life something that other people in this country are not called. Therefore, some circumspection is necessary

2. Do you read a lot?
Not nearly so much as I used to. Shorter commute and the internet are to blame

3. What's your favorite genre?
Mid-market semi-literary fiction, I suspect.

+++FANTASY AND SCI-FI+++
4. Do you prefer fantasy or science fiction?
Science fiction. I lack the fantasy gene somehow.

5. What's your favorite fantasy book/series?
Discworld. And within that, either Small Gods or Witches Abroad.
Which may not even count for people who are properly into fantasy.

6. Who's your favorite fantasy author?
Pratchett. See above.

7. What's your favorite science fiction book/series?
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. Loved Heinlein when I was a teenager though I haven't ready any in years.

8. Favorite sci-fi author?
I don't really know enough to have one.

+++MYSTERY, HORROR, AND THRILLERS+++
9. Which do you prefer: a puzzling mystery, or a terrifying thriller?
Can't I have both? I like comic mystery novels a lot. I think Quite Ugly One Morning is just terrific and laugh-out-loud funny

10. Do you have a favorite mystery novel?
I loved Silence of the Lambs, Brat Farrar, Sherlock Holmes collections... I've read some pretty good Minette Walters books -- The Shape of Snakes has fabulous unreliable narration, and since she had a dip after her first couple of books, she's been getting better as she goes along -- and I like Val McDermid's first couple of Tony Hill novels. Wire In The Blood has one of the most gut-churning mid-novel twists I've ever read.

11. A favorite horror novel?
I suppose Silence of the Lambs is also horror. I went through a big Clive Barker, James Herbert, Stephen King phase between fifiteen and twenty-five. I've revisited King again, but not the others. The Wasp Factory is superlative horror, though perhaps not in the traditional sense

+++ROMANCE+++
12. Do you read romance novels?
Not the Mills and Boon type. I read novels about love -- which are basically romances written by men and thus privileged by society and the media -- and I adore good chick lit.

13. How about gay romance novels?
Brokeback Mountain is the only one I've read.

14. What's your favorite?
Of romances? The English Patient. Which is a romance and you're blind if you don't think so. It's about other things as well. If we're talking about straight-up romance, Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keays


+++CHILDREN'S AND YA+++
15. What's your favorite children's book?
Northern Lights, Goodnight Mr Tom or Skellig or Warrior Scarlet or Danny, Champion of the World. The Wee Free Men. Holes. Can't choose

16. Is it the same book that was your favorite when you were a kid?
No. That was a book called Two of Red and Two of Blue by Marjorie Phillips, which was set in a Ruritanian style kingdom and was about a revolution to restore the rightful king. I've never met anyone who read it.

17. What's your favorite YA book?
Of late, Northern Lights by Philip Pullman.


18. Did you actually read it as a YA?
No, I read it in my mid-20s, about the same time as I read the first Harry Potter book. I was an early adopter in the case of those two series. Never expected them to be as massive as they were. I read Pullman because of his rant about the importance of story. I thought: "there's a grumpy old sod I could love".

19. In general, do you prefer children's books over grown-up books?
No, not necessarily. I think there are some superb books for children and young adults that adults would have a fantastic time reading.


+++CLASSICS AND GENERAL FICTION+++
20. What's your favorite classic novel?
Pride and Prejudice

21. What about general fiction?
That's far too difficult a question. If we're talking about rereads, it's Captain Corelli's Mandolin (flawed, the ending sucks but it made me cry on the tube); High Fidelity, The Sparrow. The last book I read that I loved absolutely was probably Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

22. What classic novel do you just *not* *get*?
Macho novels by white American males. Don De Lillo. Books about writers living in Notting Hill. I couldn't care less about your non-problems.

23. Do you have a favorite play or drama?
I love Time and the Conways. It's on in the West End next year and I haven't read it since I was a teenager. I want to know if it holds up

24. What do you think of Shakespeare?
I love some of it but I am far from knowledgeable about Shakespeare. Macbeth can be amazing, as can Hamlet and King Lear. Much Ado About Nothing is a delight. Not read most of the histories. I had to do Richard II at school

+++POETRY+++
25. Could you pick a favorite poem?
The Rescue by Seamus Heaney
In drifts of sleep I came upon you
Buried to your waist in snow.
You reached your arms out: I came to
Like water in a dream of thaw


26. What about a favorite poetry collection?
There's a wonderful book of very short poems whose name I cannot remember. Those books are currently in boxes 300 miles away

27. Who's your favorite poet?
Keats. Donne. Thomas Hardy. Seamus Heaney. Don't really know enough about it to say.

+++COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS+++
28. Do you read comics or graphic novels?
Have done, yes

29. Do you have a favorite series?
Sandman

30. A favorite book?
V For Vendetta, without a doubt. Maus was amazing. I enjoyed Red Son too

+++SHORT STORIES AND NOVELLAS+++
31. Do you prefer short stories (or short novels) over full-length novels?
No.

32. What's your favorite short story?
I honestly couldn't tell you -- mostly because I don't remember one that jumped out at me.

33. Favorite short story collection?
Kiss Kiss

34. Do you have a favorite short story author?
Roald Dahl. The man is *evil*


+++NONFICTION+++
35. What kind of nonfiction do you usually read?
Anything that interests me, be it Basques or time or evolutionary theory. I've read a lot about the second world war. I like Oliver Sacks and other popular scientists.

36. Do you have a favorite nonfiction book?
Notes from a Small Island. It's funny and affectionate.

37. Read any interesting biographies?
Lots. A few about Elizabeth I. Lots about trashy people. There's a terrific one about Rosalind Franklin that I can recommend, and Dreams from my Father is a great autobiography. Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind is very good

38. History books?
Wartime Britain by Juliet Gardiner rocks my socks as do the series they put together from the Mass Observation Diaries of the period.

39. Politics?
I've read some PJ O'Rourke and I once burned a Rush Limbaugh book I bought for 25¢. That was a good day.

40. Religious texts?
I tried to read the Qu'ran. Still might go back to that.

41. How about books on mythology, fairy-tales, or other cultural stories?
Not really, unless you count Joseph Campbell.

+++ELEMENTS OF FICTION+++
42. What's the most important element of a novel? Plot? Characterization? Style? Themes? Happy ending?
Plot. The older I get the more I realise that plot is even more difficult than beautiful prose, which would be number two on the list.

43. What kind of plot interests you the most?
The one that clicks shut with an elegant snap at the end, preferably after a number of plausible but mostly unguessable twists.

44. What kind of characters usually appeal to you?
Ones about people with a bit of side to them, as my mother would say. Not those who are necessarily likeable at first but who are chucked into circumstances they can't control and surprise themselves and everybody else by how brave and honorable they are. People who do the right thing, not the easy thing.

45. What is your favorite book overall?
Can't possibly pick.


+++PASS IT ON+++

46. What's the last book you read?
I chomped through a TV tie-in book in about an hour and a half yesterday (Shining Darkness, actually pretty good) and Dreams from my Father

47. What are you reading now?
I am reading Colour by Victoria Finlay
.
48. What are you going to read next?
I have a Douglas Coupland book I need to give back to M.

49. Is there a book you would recommend to everyone on your friends list?
Ghostwritten by David Mitchell. It's not so well known as Cloud Atlas but I found it immensely enjoyable.


If you would like a Christmas card/ holiday card from someone random-- with absolutely no requirement to reciprocate -- please feel at liberty to leave your address where only I can see it.

my address is

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
kirbyfest
Nov. 30th, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
Don De Lillo.

I SERIOUSLY do not get him, and feel like a freaking moron every time I try to read one of his books and throw it down in frustration.
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 1st, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
I know. I always think that it's me that's wrong but hey, if you agree too, then maybe there's a silent majority who agree.
se_parsons
Dec. 1st, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
I have always wondered why everyone thinks "The Great Gatsby" is a good book. It could not be more ham-handed and clumsy and filled with people with self-created non-problems that NO ONE should give a shit about. Same with all of John Updike and his inability to understand the internal life of human beings, though at least there the style is decent.
infinitemonkeys
Dec. 1st, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
I think you have to read The Great gatsby at a certain age when you think the problems of a bunch of self-absorbed arseholes amount to anything
se_parsons
Dec. 1st, 2008 09:41 pm (UTC)
I read it at 15 because I wasn't in American Lit and didn't want to be left behind.

I thought all the things our teacher thought were great, because she could teach us about SYMBOLISM, were ass. Plus the whole self-absorbed thing.

The 20th Century is full of whiny self-absorbtion in literary fiction, IMHO. At least in American Lit.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )