The author, most recently, of “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” admires fantasy fiction that feels “wonderfully strange and alarmingly familiar at the same time. That and a woman or man who can wield two swords.”
What books are on your nightstand?
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s “My Sister, the Serial Killer”; Yan Lianke’s “The Day the Sun Died”; Mervyn Peake’s “Gormenghast”; Anna Burns’s “Milkman”; Mike Mignola’s “B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs I”; and Dorothy B. Hughes’s “In a Lonely Place.”
What’s the last great book you read?
Paul Murray’s “Skippy Dies.” I’ve never read anything like it. Just don’t read the jacket copy: That did a pretty bang-up job of making me stay away from it for years — a shame because it’s one of the few true masterpieces of this young century. The very best stories can fool you into thinking that this is the first time you’re seeing a certain world, even as you’re being struck by the familiarity of it. I went to an all-boys high school not much different from Skippy’s. I had every one of Skippy’s friends: the boy with body odor, the fat kid, the compulsive swearer, the foreign kid, the oversexed loser, the science nerd, the art-gay, the new kid who would soon realize that he could do way better than us. I never thought my school life was particularly funny or sad, but thanks to this book I’m now realizing that I’ve survived the most sidesplitting comedy and heart-wrenching tragedy of my entire life.
What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?
“As Meat Loves Salt,” by Maria McCann. I’m trying to be careful in how I describe it. Have you ever had to come to grips with a loved one doing a monstrous thing and sticking by that person? Loving him but asking yourself, what does it say about your own sense of morality and decency that this person is still in your life? That’s how I felt reading the first third of this novel. Many novels are risky, but I have never read a story that goes so far out on a limb to risk alienating a protagonist because of his sudden and abominable actions. I remember saying to myself that I just can’t do this. I can’t stick with this man. And yet I fell for him. I fell in love with him falling in love. I was right there leaping up with him when he saw his lover walking down the street and saying hello to passers-by. When he described a passionate night as “delight, delight,” I even envied him a little. This was the rare book that had me waking at nights, in a sweat and fretting over a character. He was in many ways a monster. And even when he fell right back into monstrous ways, there I was in denial, because how could he be bad? I had fallen for him so hard.
Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?
Toni Morrison, Helen Oyeyemi, Patricia Smith, Colum McCann, Chris Abani, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Neil Gaiman, Ocean Vuong, Enda Walsh.
Whose opinion on books do you most trust?
My former student and present assistant Jeff, the essayist Garnette Cadogan, the reviewer Carolyn Kellogg, Salman Rushdie and Jamaica Kincaid.
When do you read?
Whenever I can steal time. Nowadays on train rides, except all my train rides are short so it can take me weeks to finish a book.
What moves you most in a work of literature?
A sense of sweep, which might be why I read so many historical novels. I like the feeling of having traveled in a novel. A journey of discovery and change so profound that the destination is beside the point. Sweep isn’t just about external journeys, but internal as well. It can be over years and decades, or across land and sea, as it is in “Song of Solomon,” by Toni Morrison, or “My Name Is Red,” by Orhan Pamuk. Or it can be from the kitchen to the spare bedroom, especially if it is accompanied by a seriously sexy amphibian, as in the case of “Mrs. Caliban,” by Rachel Ingalls.
Which genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
Genre is such a ridiculous convention, as ridiculous as the idea of the Great American Novel. Growing up in Jamaica in the ’70s and ’80s, I never had the privilege of discriminating against books. I grabbed whatever I could borrow, steal or get for free. My sci-fi cinematic universe was not made up of films at all, but film novelizations of “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.” I read whatever my friends’ parents tossed out, from Leon Uris, to John le Carré, to James Clavell, to my beloved Jackie Collins. I didn’t even realize I was supposed to view “One Hundred Years of Solitude” as a different kind of work from Gilbert Hernandez’s “Palomar” until I entered a lit class. The distinction was and is a stupid one, but it might explain why not nearly enough readers know that “Palomar” is the best American novel of the past 35 years. But if we are going to play this genre game, let me just say that I especially enjoy crime, fantasy and comics. Especially if it’s a crime or fantasy comic. I once nearly skipped my own book signing to line up for Mike Mignola, whose “Hellboy” was the most entrancing comic I had read in years. I’m also into Brian K. Vaughan’s “Saga” and have been a devotee of “Hellblazer” since the ’80s. I’m also addicted to both Tana French’s and Denise Mina’s novels.
Here’s the funny thing about so-called genre books: Nobody has ever had to teach a crime writer about cultural appropriation or representation of other people. That’s an affliction that affects only literary novelists. And scoff at chick lit all you want, but it is the only genre where women work.
What makes for a good fantasy novel?
The sense that it is wonderfully strange and alarmingly familiar at the same time. That and a woman or man who can wield two swords.
How do you organize your books?
I used to organize them alphabetically, but that would cause a shelving crisis every time the still dead but remarkably prolific Roberto Bolaño produced a new book. Now I at least try to keep each author’s titles together.
You teach English at Macalester College. What’s your favorite book to assign to and discuss with your students?
“We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” by Shirley Jackson. I teach undergrads, sometimes really young kids, raised by well-meaning parents who still managed to convince them that recorded history began when they were born. So a book older than their parents is quite something. Jackson’s novel is so wonderfully creepy that students usually feel subversive just for reading it. Add to that one of the most brilliantly realized unreliable narrators in fiction and the book becomes irresistible.
What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
Cookbooks. An entire row of cookbooks. I wish people would stop gifting me novels I’m never going to read and send me a nice cookbook.
Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite antihero or villain?
Huckleberry Finn, because after all the years he is still the fictional character who charmed me the most. Sula, not because I like her — in fact, she would have been to me what she was to everyone, best friend and mortal enemy at once — but her simple statement, “Show? To who?” (in response to ex-friend Nel asking what she had to show for her life) changed everything for me. The idea that my life’s purpose was not to gain other people’s approval never occurred to me until I read that book. After reading that novel I literally rose and walked differently.
My favorite villain remains Bill Sikes from “Oliver Twist.” He unnerves me so much that I usually try to write about him with as few words as possible, because I’m usually overcome with chills before I even finish the sentence. I never cared much for antiheroes, who always seem like whiny men who thought they had problems but really didn’t. My American literature professor thought Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire” was an antihero. I saw a self-duped, abusive, rapist loser who was in his own way as deluded as Blanche. I think I told him that he only thought Kowalski was an antihero because he wanted to get with Marlon Brando, who was the prettiest thing in that film and absolutely knew it.
What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?
This feels like Part 2 of my answer to the genre question. As I said, I read whatever I could get my hands on. The beauty there is that I never learned genre snobbery. I still remember when I was 13 and read Dickens’s “Great Expectations,” Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” James Clavell’s “Tai-Pan,” Jackie Collins’s “Hollywood Wives,” Gloria Naylor’s “The Women of Brewster Place,” John Steinbeck’s “The Pearl,” Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” V. S. Naipaul’s “Miguel Street” and Michael Anthony’s “The Year in San Fernando” within the space of six months. And that’s not counting X-Men, New Mutants, Spiderman, Teen Titans and Batman comics, which I read every month. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of the difference between “highbrow” and “lowbrow” writing — after all, I did have literature teachers. I just didn’t care. That also meant comics were the books I read with any regularity. I’m not really a fan of authors so much as books; in fact, reading authors instead of books might be why we are much more likely to have read a bad book from a famous author than a great book from someone less known (or less consistent). At this point I would guess more people have read “Soldiers’ Pay” than “Appointment in Samarra.”
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Colette, because then the party would be in bed. Gabriel García Márquez, because his life stories would be crazier than his fiction. And Henry Fielding, because whoever wrote “Tom Jones” must be tons of fun, right? As long as nobody is talking about their work.
Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
I tried “Wuthering Heights” for the third time last summer because so many people I deeply admire swear by it. For one friend it was the defining literary moment that changed their lives. I still think it’s an aimlessly overwrought, overwritten, unpleasant mess. Besides, everybody knows “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” is the finest Brontë novel. “Jane Eyre” is second. “Villette” is third. “Agnes Grey” is fourth.
Whom would you want to write your life story?
A hologram of Boswell.B:
东成西就免费四不像图【仔】【细】【想】【想】【班】【里】【的】【那】【些】【学】【霸】，【似】【乎】【真】【的】【没】【有】【在】【课】【堂】【上】【睡】【过】【觉】，【这】【么】【一】【想】，【米】【嘉】【园】【止】【不】【住】【的】【佩】【服】。 【她】【无】【聊】【的】【甩】【着】【手】【中】【的】【腕】【表】，【时】【不】【时】【的】【盯】【着】【表】【盘】【上】【转】【动】【的】【指】【针】，【怎】【么】【最】【后】【五】【分】【钟】【这】【么】【慢】【啊】！【简】【直】【就】【是】【煎】【熬】【啊】！ “【五】、【四】、【三】、【二】、【一】，【下】【课】！”【果】【然】【不】【出】【所】【料】，【下】【课】【铃】【在】【她】【话】【音】【刚】【落】【后】【就】【响】【起】。 【果】【然】【啊】，【中】【学】【时】
【接】【下】【来】【的】【几】【天】，【所】【有】【人】【都】【处】【于】【紧】【张】【状】【态】。 F【几】【乎】【寸】【步】【不】【离】【的】【坐】【在】【电】【脑】【前】，【手】【指】【飞】【快】【在】【键】【盘】【上】【跳】【动】，【为】【回】【去】【做】【最】【后】【准】【备】。 【因】【为】【之】【前】【的】【事】【情】，【娇】【娇】【好】【几】【天】【没】【有】【理】【彭】【哥】。【尽】【管】【他】【不】【停】【解】【释】，【娇】【娇】【却】【始】【终】【不】【肯】【相】【信】，【冷】【战】【恐】【怕】【还】【得】【持】【续】【一】【段】【时】【间】。 【以】【免】【被】【觉】【察】【出】【不】【对】【劲】，【沈】【一】【继】【续】【自】【己】【的】【工】【作】，【忙】【完】【了】【便】【会】【下】【来】【帮】【忙】
【苏】【月】【牙】：“【思】【眠】，【不】【瞒】【你】【说】，【其】【实】【原】【本】【我】【计】【划】【年】【尾】【回】【国】，【可】【是】【这】【次】【却】【提】【前】【了】【这】【么】【久】，【你】【知】【道】【为】【什】【么】【吗】？” “【你】【说】【过】，【为】【了】【男】【神】，【对】【不】【对】？”【她】【们】【四】【人】【曾】【在】【网】【上】【聊】【过】【这】【件】【事】。【月】【牙】【有】【一】【个】【默】【默】【喜】【欢】【了】【很】【多】【年】【的】【人】，【因】【某】【种】【原】【因】【和】【对】【方】【失】【联】【了】，【这】【些】【年】【她】【没】【有】【对】【方】【的】【联】【系】【方】【式】，【也】【不】【知】【道】【对】【方】【的】【地】【址】，【如】【今】【终】【于】【知】【道】【那】【个】东成西就免费四不像图“【优】【势】【自】【然】【是】【有】【一】【些】【的】，【毕】【竟】【穆】【中】【阳】【那】【小】【子】【的】【三】【拳】，【的】【确】【可】【以】【让】【人】【收】【获】【颇】【深】。”【江】【玄】【也】【是】【微】【咪】【起】【来】【了】【眼】【睛】。 “【战】【斗】【体】【悟】，”【东】【方】【白】【也】【是】【苦】【笑】【了】【声】，【这】【江】【玄】【前】【辈】【还】【真】【是】。 “【好】【了】，【这】【阴】【阳】【决】【的】【条】【件】，【很】【简】【单】，【便】【是】【需】【要】【你】【们】【三】【人】【共】【同】【去】【对】【付】【那】【边】【的】【阴】【阳】【二】【使】，【只】【要】【你】【们】【能】【够】【打】【败】【他】【们】，【便】【可】【以】【取】【得】【这】【次】【元】【素】【大】【会】【最】
【洪】【玄】【机】【观】【察】【到】【张】【超】【似】【乎】【打】【算】【凝】【炼】【周】【身】【之】【神】，【却】【是】【不】【由】【的】【露】【出】【了】【一】【抹】【笑】【容】。 【随】【即】，【为】【了】【掩】【饰】【自】【己】【的】【内】【心】【真】【实】【想】【法】，【他】【只】【道】：“【真】【人】。【可】【有】【兴】【趣】【和】【玄】【机】【切】【磋】【一】【手】？” “【切】【磋】【一】【手】！”【张】【超】【不】【禁】【微】【微】【一】【楞】。 【他】【不】【禁】【暗】【暗】【思】【索】，【洪】【玄】【机】【这】【是】【什】【么】【意】【思】，【是】【真】【的】【切】【磋】，【还】【是】【还】【在】【试】【探】，【乃】【或】【要】【指】【点】【他】【什】【么】。 【不】【过】，
【各】【位】【兄】【弟】， 【大】【家】【晚】【上】【好】， 【写】【下】【这】【些】【的】【时】【候】，【不】【屈】【心】【里】【也】【在】【激】【烈】【的】【抉】【择】【着】，【到】【底】【该】【不】【该】【这】【样】，【这】【本】【书】【写】【到】【现】【在】，【也】【有】【三】【个】【多】【月】【了】，【可】【以】【是】【付】【出】【了】【很】【大】【的】【心】【血】。 【说】【实】【话】， 【不】【屈】【是】【真】【得】【想】【努】【力】【更】【新】，【把】【这】【本】【书】【的】【成】【绩】【拉】【上】【来】。 【本】【来】【说】【好】【的】【国】【庆】【爆】【更】，【不】【屈】【食】【言】【了】，【屁】【事】【一】【大】【堆】，【还】【根】【本】【摆】【脱】【不】【了】。 【一】
【方】【林】【装】【作】【不】【经】【意】【的】【掠】【过】，【那】【黑】【色】【海】【鱼】【混】【杂】【在】【其】【他】【海】【鱼】【群】【之】【中】，【本】【就】【不】【显】【眼】【的】【它】，【更】【是】【几】【乎】【难】【以】【察】【觉】【到】【了】。 【但】【方】【林】【却】【是】【出】【其】【不】【意】，【天】【目】【力】【量】【四】【散】【开】【来】，【将】【方】【圆】【数】【百】【里】【的】【海】【域】【都】【封】【锁】【起】【来】。 【紧】【接】【着】，【方】【林】【直】【接】【便】【是】【朝】【着】【那】【黑】【色】【海】【鱼】【勐】【然】【而】【去】。 【这】【一】【下】【来】【得】【极】【为】【突】【然】，【那】【黑】【色】【海】【鱼】【根】【本】【没】【想】【到】【方】【林】【早】【就】【已】【经】【察】【觉】【到】