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Sunday, April 3, 2005

My life as a book.

Chalicechick invites me into a bit of self-disclosure through bibliophilia, so here are my answers to the bookish questions she passes along:

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

In Bradbury's novel, books are suspect and therefore burned by the state — so renegades memorize their favorite volumes and turn themselves into a living library. What would I memorize? The two strongest candidates are two books I became obsessed with in college and read over and over again: The Unexpected Universe by Loren Eiseley and Science and the Modern World by Alfred North Whitehead. But if I were stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, I'd want to hang out with the people who were novels and plays.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Cilla in Johnny Tremain stands out as my first crush on a character. I loved that book when I was ten — and it established the image of Boston that lasted until I moved here in my mid-twenties.

The last book you bought is:

Max Weber: An Intellectual Biography by Fritz Ringer and Identity in Democracy by Amy Gutmann. (I almost never buy only one book at a time.)

The last book you read was:

The book I finished most recently was Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith by Martha Nibley Beck, to which I had a very strong and complex reaction. I'm trying to write about my response, so I won't try to summarize it here. Let's just say that the literature of post-Mormonism has not yet achieved subtlety.

What are you currently reading?

I won't even mention books I sample or skim at work, where I'm buried alive in review copies. At home I'm reading Orhan Pamuk's novel Snow, have just started Derek Walcott's book-length poem The Prodigal, and am mere pages from finishing Mark Fritz's Lost on Earth: Nomads of the New World. When I feel like being intellectual, I pick up John Gray's Isaiah Berlin or Christianity in Jewish Terms by Tikva Frymer-Kensky et al.

Five books you would take to a desert island.

The Complete Essays of Montaigne
Dante's Divine Comedy, if I could somehow get several different poets' translations all at once
Alberto Manguel's A History of Reading
And, because being on a desert island is probably the only way I'll ever truly be made into a contemplative, Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation

Who are you going to pass the baton to (three persons) and why?

I'd ask Matthew Gatheringwater, who used to have an awesome blog but may simply have to post his reply in the comments; Beth Young, academic mom extraordinaire; and Erishkigal of Exiled from the Underworld, a Tulsa UU whose interests really run the gamut.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 3 April 2005 at 10:38 AM

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Scott Wells:

April 3, 2005 12:30 PM | Permalink for this comment

Hmm -- I was going to put you on my ask list, but wouldn't think you'd oblige, or that it was too close to your other book reporting.

I was wrong there.


April 3, 2005 12:50 PM | Permalink for this comment

Wouldn't oblige? Scott, buddy old pal, this is an obligatory blog, an obliging blog, an obliblog even. Yet it's true: I hate chain mail, have never posted one of those "You're Product X!" quiz-type things, and have never apologized for my lack of sensitivity to Universalism in the iPod discussion at Coffee Hour. (I'm sorry.) But it's kind of a fascinating question, and I started thinking about how I would answer when I read your post, so there you go. But do we have to memorize our book in time for the Philocriticsfest? Will there be recitations? (Please say no.)

Matthew Gatheringwater:

April 4, 2005 02:12 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'm afraid I'm not very good at this sort of thing, but it is nice to be asked. Thank you.

I will say that most of my crushes *have* been on fictional characters. I suspect this may have something to do with my spectacularly unsuccessful real-life romances. If one's formative affectional experiences revolve upon the relative merits of Phineas Finn, Mr. Knightly, and Mr. Rochester, one is apt to be a little let down at the circuit party.

I will admit also to having blog crushes. Philocrites was my first blogthrob, but over the years I've come to have a special affection for Chalicechick and was very much put out to learn of her marriage.

Wishing you all well...


April 4, 2005 03:49 PM | Permalink for this comment


I’ve had writing crushes myself and were I not about to meet a whole bunch of Philocritics, I’d take the flirty route and respond with a line from Dangerous Beauty and promise you that:

On the page,
Or on the sheet
You’ll never find
A tongue more sweet.

But given that I am about to meet a bunch of you in person, it’s probably best to take the candid route and say.

“You really made a chubby, rather plain girl’s day with that one.”



April 6, 2005 09:40 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thank you for the invitation to play-- and for the kind words! I promise that I will respond (most likely on my blog) but I haven't the time right now.

Not unexpectedly, we share some print interests...


April 7, 2005 09:17 PM | Permalink for this comment

Wow, I am SO flattered to be asked! I'll respond as this coming week in my blog. Loved your comment about post-Mormon lit. The post-Christian Science lit is the same way.

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