PATRICK STEPHENSON

Earthbound concerns of an ascendant adult

Book Survey

with 2 comments

Hardcover or paperback, and why? Maddie’s right: hardcovers do possess a certain prestige. It’s the heft, the potentially beautiful cover art, the sense you’re supporting an author by paying, uh, top dolla for his/her work. Plus if you buy the book immediately, you’re in the lead. You’ll understand the cultural commentators when they mention this book, because you have it in hardcover, and you’ve maybe read it, and you’re better than everyone else in the world. But there are downsides. I can’t read a large hardcover, e.g. Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day, in bed, because keeping it up—above the head/eyes—is way difficult. Who has that much energy when they’re about to sleep? And they’re not portable. Paperbacks may not have prestige, but they’re portable and more readable. Hardcovers, then, are meant to be admired, while paperbacks are meant for reading. I’m more of a reader than a collector—I beat my books up big-time; some of them are torn up—so I vote paperback.

If I were to own a bookstore, I’d call it… “Natty Bumppo.” Natty Bumppo’s the main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s TERRIBLE Leatherstocking Tales, and his name’s always made me laugh. What a stupid name. I wonder if there’d be any legal problems with this one. Probably not, because N.H. has been dead so long. A “Natty Bumppo” sounds like a rather sophisticated and well-dressed pustule, the perfect place to buy books and drink strawberry-flavored smoothies. My bookstore would ban US Weekly and Star Magazine, and there would be a large special shelf devoted entirely to literary journals. I would write little comments and reviews of my favorite books and attach them to my store’s bookshelves: “Patrick Recommends.”

My favorite quote from a book is… I have tons. I’ll choose ONE:

By the time the sun was going down they’d nearly finished the case between them. Profane was balefully drunk. He got out of the car, wandered off behind a tree and pointed west, with some intention of pissing on the sun to put it out good and for all, this being somehow important to him. (Inanimate objects could do what they wanted. Not what they wanted because things do not want; only men. But things do what they do, and this is why Profane was pissing at the sun.) It went down, as if he’d extinguished it after all and continued on immortal, god of a darkened world.

V., by Thomas Pynchon

The author (alive or dead) I would love to have lunch with would be… Jonathan Ames, though I’d try not to shake his hand because he’s written SO MUCH about picking his nose and masturbating. He once nearly killed himself with nose-picking. I realize everyone I know does these things, but I don’t mind shaking their hands because I’m not AS cognizant. I haven’t read about the times they’ve picked their noses and masturbated. So I love you, Jonathan Ames, and I’d love to hear your stories in person, but I won’t be touching your hand. Don’t be offended.

If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be… I love books but who could read one book over and over forever? I’d cheat and take an anthology, but an anthology that collects every good book in my library, and its pages would be REALLY thin and Bible-like. If that’s against the rules, I’d choose The Collected Works of Roald Dahl, which doesn’t exist but should. Roald Dahl introduced me to fiction (the joys of it), and I’d love to close out my fiction-reading life reading him. Full circle with Roald Dahl. Plus, he was a misanthropist and I’d prolly be angry about being stuck on this deserted island. “Why haven’t you rescued me, people of the world? I’m going to read about how you’re disgusting and venal and stupid.”

I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that… An iPod for books, except it wouldn’t look like an iPod. Reading it would be just like reading a book now. It would look like a book and feel like a book and only the first page would be computerized. You’d choose your book—browsing through authors and titles—and the pages would fill up with its text. I enjoy the book’s form factor. I don’t enjoy having only one book at once along with me.

The smell of an old book reminds me of… Like Maddie, I don’t have the book-smell nostalgia. I have one softcover that’s so dusty and old reading it gives me a headache. Where’s the mystique there?

If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be… Either Bruno or Boots from Gordon Korman’s series of the same name, that is Bruno and Boots—a pair of Canadian jokesters at a Canadian boarding school who between pranks and schemes visit their girlfriends on the campus across the street. Something about private boarding schools—the enclosed environment, the limited number of characters, the communal conflicts—appeals to me. Harry Potter’s the same way. Christopher Hitchens doesn’t agree.

The most overestimated book of all time is I’m not sure what’s meant by this. Do you, question writer, mean ‘overrated’? No matter what, I’d say The Bible, or really any religious text—because look at the damage they’ve wrought.

I hate it when a book.. Is poorly written. Your story may be amazing, but if you cannot write a sentence that reads smoothly, you’ve lost me.

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Written by patiomensch

October 8, 2007 at 11:50 am

Posted in Books, Jonathan Ames

2 Responses

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  1. It’s official: You’re much more clever than I am when it comes to writing.

    But I’m cuter.

    Maddie

    October 8, 2007 at 2:12 pm

  2. Infinitely cuter.

    patiomensch

    October 8, 2007 at 3:50 pm


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