Best known for his essays on travel and nature, Edward Hoagland has written more than 20
books, both fiction and nonfiction, and his newest one, Sex and the River Styx (Chelsea Green, February 2011), focuses on aging. He worked at the Barnum & Bailey Circus
while attending Harvard in the early 1950s and later traveled the world writing
for Harper's, National Geographic and other magazines. He
received two Guggenheim Fellowships, and in 1982 was elected to the American
Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2005, he retired from a teaching position at
Bennington College in Vermont. A native New Yorker, he divides his time between
Vermont and Martha's Vineyard.
On your nightstand now:
Here on Earth by Tim Flannery, The View from Lazy Point
by Carl Safina and Algonquian Spirit, edited by Brian Swann.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Chanco: A U.S. Army Homing
inscribed in 1942 as "the greatest book in the world"--by Helen Orr Watson
and, later, Kipling's The Jungle Book. Although the pair of homing pigeons my father bought me flew away, I was
thrilled, 50 years later, to be roared at by a real-life Shere Khan on a forest
trail in Tamil Nadu.
Your top five authors:
Shakespeare, Homer, Dickens, Cervantes.
Book you've faked reading:
Remembrance of Things
Past. I haven't actually faked it, just
been closed-mouthed about not having undertaken it.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Those by friends like Geoffrey Wolff,
David Markson and Gretel Ehrlich, and Thomas Mann's Confessions of Felix
Krull, Turgenev's A Sportsman's Notebook, Lawrence Millman's Our
Like Will Not Be There Again, Henderson the Rain King and Seize
the Day by Saul Bellow. And Bernal Diaz's, Benvenuto Cellini's and James
Book you've bought for the cover:
Malamud, for his kind and delicious name.
Book that changed your life:
collectively, because at first I wanted to be a novelist. In 1968, at 35, I
invented the essay form for myself, later reading Montaigne and George Orwell.
Favorite line from a book:
Book you most want to read again for
the first time:
Writers that have been particularly
generous to you:
Berryman, Archibald MacLeish, Philip Roth, Alfred Casey.