Stephanie Johnson's short fiction collection One of These Things is Not Like the Others is available from Keyhole Books.
what are you reading now
I'm reading Italo Calvino's Difficult Loves and an advance copy of Shellie Zacharia's Now Playing, which is Keyhole's next book release. The voice in Zacharia's work is amazing -- playful and a pleasure to read. Kevin Wilson's Tunneling to the Center of the Earth is next.
classic you’ve been meaning to read
Is this a trick question? It sounds like a trick question. I once admitted that I hadn't read One Hundred Years of Solitude (which I have since read) and was mocked openly and repeatedly as a "literary virgin." I don't think I should answer this question until I know that you're friendly...
last book to bring you to tears
I'm not sure what the last book was, but Larry Brown's short story "Facing the Music" kills me every single time I read it.
book you borrowed and never returned
I have trouble reading books other people have lent me or that I get from the library because I'm a book hoarder. I usually assume that if you're telling me to read something it's because you think I'll like it. When I like a book, I have to have a sense of mine, mine, mine! Borrow my car, eat all the food in the fridge and have a beer while you're at it, none of that bothers me.... but I'm incredibly possessive about my books and I (probably incorrectly) assume other people feel the same way, so "book-borrowing" isn't really in my vocabulary.
strangest dream involving a book or literary character
As soon as I put this on paper, I'll feel a need to dissect it using Freudian or Jungian analysis. Or, worse yet, someone with actual psychoanalytic dream-analysis expertise will uncover a deep-seated and horrifying element lurking in my unconscious mind... Either way, it's not going to be pretty...
I don't often dream of characters, but sometimes I dream about writers. I quit smoking when I found out I was pregnant with my son, but I'm still a smoker when I dream. Most of the dream-plots are pretty boring (I have a lazy unconscious-dream-mind), but I find them pleasant because they usually involve someone asking me if I want to go outside and smoke a cigarette.
favorite book from childhood
Like most kids, I was completely taken with Dr. Seuss. I also was addicted to Choose Your Own Adventure books.
longest book you’ve ever read
Infinite Jest. I had a wicked-bad literary crush on David Foster Wallace, and I read the book cover-to-cover when it was first released.
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
I don't have that kind of forethought anymore. If I know someone is coming over, more often than not, I'm trying to reduce the chaos -- not haul more out. However, I tend to get along well with people who have books by James Joyce or Flannery O'Connor on *their* coffee tables.
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
most anticipated upcoming release
I need to get a copy of Suzanne Burns's Misfits and Other Heroes and I'm looking forward to Laura van den Berg's What the World Will Look Like When all the Water Leaves Us.
recommended reading list:
Literary Comfort Food
I read an interview with David Foster Wallace where he suggested (and here I'll paraphrase poorly, I'm sure) that fiction's work is to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. That stuck with me as a noble goal -- both in terms of writing and reading. Below, are some of my favorite "comfort food" collections/books.
- Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver
- The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
- Dubliners by James Joyce
- Big Bad Love by Larry Brown
- Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson
- Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
- Girl with Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace
- Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera
- Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel García Márquez
- The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
- Valentines by Olaf Olafsson
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse