Life with Amy involves "Muskrat Love," Turgenev, and thick slices of lemon cake. Read all about it.
The Printed Word
A book you're reading this month
I'm going through a Margot Livesey phase. I've just finished her first novel, Homework. I think it's my favorite. I love how intuitively it progresses.
3 favorite books
Death in Summer by William Trevor
Lost in Translation by Eva Hoffman
Home of the Gentry by Turgenev.
Your favorite poem
It's hard to choose just one. Maybe Bishop's "The Man-Moth."
A classic "must-read" book that you couldn't stand
A Confederacy of Dunces. I was so sick of that sphincter.
The 3 writers, living or dead, you'd want to have a beer with
Freud, Colette, and David Sedaris, all at the same time. I'd probably be so busy watching that I'd never say a word.
The one standby children's book you give to the children you know
Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons. I should give it to everybody I know.
Name of the book you want to write but know you never will
Buffalo Speedway. (This is the name of a street in Houston.)
Anything you've ever read that changed your mind drastically
My mind has been expanded --changed in that sense -- by many, many books. A short list: Tristram Shandy; The Bride and the Bachelors; Pale Fire; Guns, Germs, and Steel; The Way to Cook; The totally tipped Tipping Point.
Poem you could recite from memory if you had to
"I Will Come Back" by Pablo Neruda
Favorite statement or literary analogy you (over)use
"How are you?" (Asked for the fourth time in the space of one minute.)
Magazine, journal, or zine we'd be most likely to find if we searched your bag
The New Yorker, Harper's, Saveur
You're a bumpersticker. You read:
I implore you to drive carefully. My life is in your hands.
A favorite song from your adolescence
"Amnesia" by Pousette Dart
A piece of music you hate to admit you like
"Muskrat Love" by The Captain and Tenille-though, actually, I'm pretty pleased to admit that I like it.
A song that makes you dance
Earth, Wind, and Fire's "Boogie Wonderland"
The kind of music you listen to when doing housework
The Go Go's-Beauty and the Beat
The last CD you bought
mild7's "demos for Stella"
The album on your shelf with the most worn grooves
Painted from Memory by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach
Your favorite venue for live music
Blues Alley in Washington, D.C.
3 tunes you'd include in a soundtrack of your life
"Brand New Friend" by Lloyd Cole
"Rattlesnakes" by Lloyd Cole
"Love and Affection" by Joan Armatrading
Music you listen to in the car
My radio doesn't work very well, so mostly I sing (when I'm by myself), and lately I sing hymns. "Spirit of Life" is the current favorite.
The instrument you studied as a child
The snare drum
A tune you like to wallow in
"Mr. Wrong" by Lloyd Cole
Movies, Theater, TV
The last movie or play you loved
Himalaya. I'd never before contemplated that a boy might not have seen a tree. And what a landscape.
Your all-time favorite scene
That moment in My Life as a Dog when Ingmar returns to the village after his mother has died, and his uncle meets him at the train.
The best movie to see on a date
Something just out that does not star Meg Ryan
Altman? Ang Lee?
Director to watch
Whit Stillman. Though he's already pretty well-watched.
Give us a concept for a sitcom starring yourself
How about one set in a Department of Motor Vehicles office? Talk about drama! And with the way things move at the D.M.V., there's plenty of time for chit-chat among the office workers. In fact, what if the same customers stayed in line for an entire season, with, maybe, one new person joining the end of the line on each show and then giving up in disgust at the end of the episode? Test drives offer rich visual possibilities. "I" could be the chronically offbeat assistant supervisor, or something, who's writing a novel on the job. The brawny sheriff and I could feel an abiding attraction to each other.
A TV show you can't miss
There isn't one though I like many shows, especially cop shows.
TV shows you grew up watching
I watched pretty much everything, but I was an especially grave and studious viewer of Perry Mason re-runs.
Team you follow rabidly
I follow the Boston Red Sox, not rabidly but with nostalgic affection.
Favorite on-field or on-court moment
Any time Pedro Martinez pitches.
The thing that's changed the most in the place you grew up
The laundromat, the hardware store, the grocery store, and other everyday businesses in Stonington, Connecticut have closed. Most of those spaces now sell smelly candles to tourists.
The career your parents wished you'd pursue - that you didn't
The law. It was all those episodes of Perry Mason.
An unusual family tradition
My grandmother was a devout believer in the United Nations, so she flew the U.N. flag from her second story window day in, day out, rain or shine. Once a man who worked for the U.N. happened down the street. (This was in Stonington, CT.) He decided to provide my grandmother with a spanking brand new flag. It looked downright spiffy for the few years.
The high school clique you most wanted to be in (or most hated)
I liked my lot in life as an outer satellite of the trying-hard-to-go-to-a-good-college in-crowd. I was terrified of the cool people who hung out in the "butt room"-the smoking lounge. One girl was so cool that she wore cleats all the time.
The pressing cultural issues in your neighborhood
I suppose it's whether the neighborhood will be able to maintain itself as a culture. Property taxes and rents are going up, and so is the cost of maintaining the properties. Will artist and writer types be able to afford living here?
Your favorite Web sites
www.symantec.com/avcenter (I'm currently quite fascinated with viruses.)
What you hate most about America
Is the lack of empathy for the people at the margins.
Name 3 things on your current to-do list
I don't keep one.
Describe your favorite teacher
My favorite teacher was Keith Fort at Georgetown. He had a habit of saying very startling things in a very quiet voice. I quote him to my creative writing students all the time, especially his line about pacing: "Nobody cares what Hamlet ate for breakfast." He has also been kind and generous to me, time and time again.
Name your pet peeve
I have so many! I'm especially annoyed by noise pollution. Why did they have to put all those TVs in airports?
A meal of your comfort foods would include ...
King Ranch chicken (a Texas speciality) with a side of creamed spinach and some mashed potatoes and then a big slice of lemon cake.
Interest of yours that would most surprise the people who don't know you well
Going to the gym.
A good story about a past or present pet
When I was a kid, we had a goat named Ernestine. Once Ernestine got loose and ate the teenage neighbor's pot plants. The teenager was really mad, of course, but believe me, Ernestine was very mellow about the whole situation.
Are you more technophobe or technophile?
I'm a vicarious technophile. I love to read about new and exciting must-have contraptions to order and transform our world, but I'm often reluctant to own them.
Make your own headlines for recent news
Bush Hampered by Self
The headlines in your ideal world ...
I guess it depends where in the timeline of the ideal world we'd be. At the beginning, it would be all the usual stuff-poverty eradicated, cancer cured, teachers' pay raised 500%, etc. After the ideal world has stabilized, I'd think that the headlines would be pretty dull. Something like, "Babies Born, Elderly Die Peacefully, World Spins On."
What delights you most
Waking up in the morning and thinking, My God, I have a great life.
Your ideal death if you could choose
I think a two or three day coma is the best way to go. After you know you're fading and you've gotten a chance to say goodbye to the people you love, the coma gives your friends and family some twilight time to adjust.
Your tombstone might read
My God, She Had a Great Life
Contents Copyright 2001, National Public Radio