I stole this from Barbara Smith. But it's about books. How could I not?
1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest?
An oxford pocket dictionary bought in 1971 to start high school. If dictionaries don’t count then a now very tatty paperback copy of Michael Alexander’s translation of Beowulf.
2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you'll read next?
Currently reading ‘Hereward the Wake” It's awful so i blame Linda davis. Just finished The Pen Friend by Ciaran Cason and The monk. (who reads one book at a time?) Next non work read is Varney the Vampire though I think I have to read Butler’s Gender Trouble First..
3. What book did everyone like and you hated?
Don’t often hate books. I hated Eagleton’s “How to read a Poem” with the kind of hatred that is dangerously close to irrational loathing but I don’t know if anyone else liked it.
4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?
The fairy Queen. I get about half way through and crash.
5. Which book are you saving for "retirement?"
why save a book?
6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?
Depends. Most often or not I read the last page first.
7. Acknowledgments: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?
I always read them. When I was kayaking it used to be a way of finding what some of my friends were up to…All the poetry I’ve published has been read by friends before it ever saw the light of day and some of their comments have been invaluable. Especially with the longer sequences it’s a big ask getting someone to read and comment. So I always try and say thank you.
8. Which book character would you switch places with?
I can think of three characters I’d like to swop with and three books I’d like to be in: I want Thursday Next’s job please. (what reader doesn’t). or to be the River Rat in Wind in the Willows or Lucas Corso in The Dumas club. Then I’d like to be in The House at Pooh Corner; At Swim Two Birds , and Ulysses. (Actually, I’d like to be Ulysses. The whole book.)
9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)?
10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.
All the Russias by Henry Norman..it’s an old old book. I did a slide show at bill’s Adventure bookshop in Maleny and instead of paying me he gave me that and a couple more beautiful books. Best payment I’ve ever had for shooting my mouth off in public. (He also had a first edition of the Ascent of Rum Doodle which he didn’t give me.)
11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?
I tend to buy specific books for those kind of people.
12. Which book has been with you to the most places?
Probably that Pocket dictionary and Beowulf if we’re talking houses. Copies of Ulysses (I’ve killed a few) have probably clocked the most air miles. Mandeville and Basho did the trans Siberian. My paperback of Byron’s Don Juan did the whole Russian/Central Asian trip so I think it has done the most land and river miles and probably been read in the weirdest of places.
13. Any "required reading" you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad ten years later?
I hated it all and still can’t read a lot of it. I don’t remember liking anything we had to read except for Othello. My teacher put me off Keats and it wasn’t til I was at uni that I reread bits of it and saw it might have some value. Going the other way i loved Lawrence's Pansies when i first found them (we "did" some of his poems for O level. Didn't read them for years. Recently i found a cheap copies of his collected poems. It still sparks.(and no i don't like his prose or his attitudes)
14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?
Creepiest was a lipstick smudge on a copy of Shadowland that I swear wasn’t there when I started reading that page. I buy a lot of second hand books so I’ve found everything from letters to flowers, ferry tickets, plane tickets, postcards blank or otherwise. None of them seem strange really
15. Used or brand new?
Both. I don’t’ care. . I like the second handedness of second hand books. I like the marginal scribbles and the underlining. I like the idea of an ongoing conversation with people I’ll never meet. I also love the smell of second hand books. James and I were actually sniffing a set in a book shop when we realised the owner was watching. Expecting to be embarrassed, he said: if you like that, try this..and gave us some first edition Arabian nights to savour…Book sniffers of the world unite!
16. Stephen King: Literary genius or opiate of the masses?
Neither. Damn good at what he does if you like what he does. I prefer early Straub.
17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?
Yes. Lair of the White Worm. The film is bad but it’s a vast improvement on the book.
18. Conversely, which book should NEVER have been introduced to celluloid. Ulysses. Stoker’s Dracula. (Polanski’s version of the Dumas club is so bad it’s really a different story.)
19. Have you ever read a book that's made you hungry, cookbooks being excluded from this question?
Can’t say so.
20. Who is the person whose book advice you'll always take?
I’ll take anybodies.