You read a lot of heavy stuff! (Or ‘deep’ as you call them.) What do you like best about reading challenging books?
I am very interested in how people get through difficult or traumatic experiences. It’s kind of like why I watch a lot of true crime. There is something about people’s responses to adversity that make me feel more connected to humanity and my own story. Even when books don’t have an uplifting ending, I find it important to understand life in all of its facets. We all fail, we all suffer loss, we don’t always rise above. Life is all experiences, not just the ones that we happily embrace. There’s also a catharsis that often happens for me when a heavy book ends. I experienced a tragic, sudden death when I was in my 20’s, and for good or for ill, it has shaped my whole life. As I said in one of my reviews, it’s the thing I carry. Being able to clean out the old feelings with a good cry makes me feel better.
What’s most important to you as a reader: character, plot, writing, other?
I think character. I have an MFA in short fiction, and while I focused a lot on subtext and style in my own writing, ultimately character studies satisfy me the most as a reader. I love how real a character can seem, how they can accompany you in an intimate way. How the reader serves as witness. My emotional connection to a book always seems to rest on the people’s stories being told. This is also true of nonfiction, which I love just as much as fiction.
What’s your favorite book-based movie?
No Country for Old Men. I saw the movie before reading the book and fell in love with it. Which is a weird thing to say about such a bleak story. But when I read the book, I realized how pitch perfect the movie is. The film manages to capture visually the spare feel of McCarthy’s writing style. The acting is superb. Each actor’s face says as much as their dialogue.
Which three characters would you want on your trivia team?
Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov—an obsessive intellectual
Klaus Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events—consumed with books and research
PD James’ Inspector Adam Dagliesh—an intense intellectual with an analytical (as well as poetic) bent
What’s the last TV show you binged?
Snapped. It’s a true crime series about woman murderers. Nice light fare.