"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nonfiction Meme

More snowfall. It started about 9 a.m., very light and dry. I had no difficulty getting to my noontime meeting to plan a diocesan event. How nice it was to think and talk about something that will take place in June, even as the snow outside the conference room window fell ever faster, in bigger flakes.

The driving was much worse as I navigated the several city blocks to my mandolin lesson.

The conditions were dreadful during my homeward drive. Four-lane highways were down to only two lanes, and the plows were nowhere to be seen. Happily, people seemed to be driving slowly and with caution--the average speed was about 40 mph on the motorway and 35 mph on Route 4 (with lots of backups due to volume, not accidents) and I was the only vehicle on my neighbourhood roads, where safety demanded 20 mph. or less. I was frightened by the hill, my memories of a couple of 360-degree spins are still so fresh, but first gear and some heavy praying helped me to overcome the effects of gravity and several inches accumulation!

The Chap had a good day down in Boston and was headed to a pub for dinner, having had quite the feast at midday, and a good French meal last night. I'm not sure what's on the menu for me...last night I made a quesadilla which turned out very well indeed. Tonight I'm less inspired and adventurous, but far hungrier because I had no lunch. It could be oatmeal or some other eccentric comfort food.

Melissa tagged me to do this meme, which I've seen all round the blogs:

What issues/topic interests you most--non-fiction, i.e, cooking, knitting, stitching, there are infinite topics that has nothing to do with novels?

I read loads of history and biography and memoirs for research on my novels, or for lectures I've given, but also read it for fun. Books about dogs are high on my list. I enjoy political books--cut my teeth on the serious stuff like Making of the President 1960 by Theodore H. White. I also like political satire, like Al Franken's books. Travel books--memoir, armchair, guidebooks. Gardening books, especially roses, perennials and herbs. Cookery books. How-to books about writing.

Would you like to review books concerning those?

Well, yes, I would. I can. I do. I've written reviews in nearly every category listed above. Sometimes the books are assigned for review, and sometimes they're my choice.

Would you like to be paid or do it as interest or hobby? Tell reasons for what ever you choose.

I've mostly done it for pay. Although I'm not wholly averse to giving it away for free, I usually don't.

Would you recommend those to your friends and how?

With friends and relatives that I know are readers and who share my tastes, I'm happy to recommend books. Sometimes they are animal tales, e.g. The Good, Good Pig by Sy Montgomery, and Jon Katz's dog-centric works. I recall mentioning those books here on the blog. Many of the books I recommend are novels. I don't do a lot of personal, casual recommending, perhaps because I rarely assume others will like what I like. It seems presumptuous. Or is it because I'm so rarely around people I know so well that I'm comfortable talking books with them with any sort of detail?

Some kinds of book talk can be deeply intimate, at least for me. It's almost like discussing spirituality. Or my underwear. So very, very revealing.

recommending a book

If you have already done something like this, link it to your post.

Um, I checked the archives of the newspaper for which I've written most often, most recently. But the only book review still visible was for mystery novel, so it wasn't nonfic.

Missing question: Do you always finish the books you start?

If it's for a paid review, always, because I'm analysing the whole and not finishing is cheating and unfair to the reader of the review. If for pleasure, I almost always finish--but I'm a really, really fast reader, so if a book sucks I just skim to the end.

Very seldom do I throw a book against the wall in frustration and just give up. Maybe it's my optimism showing, but I tell myself that even the worst of reads will reveal something of value. Even if it's no more than a lesson in how not to write a book!

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