Clyde Phillip Wachsberger was an artist, gardener and writer who lived in Orient on Long Island's North Fork. His published books include Daffodil; Rose; and Of Leaf and Flower: Stories and Poems for Gardeners, which he co-edited with his partner, Charles Dean, and for which his illustrations won the Garden Writers Association award for best book illustration. He completed our Brahmin questionnaire before his death in November 2011. Farrar, Straus & Giroux published his memoir, Into the Garden with Charles, on April 10, 2012.
On your nightstand now:
A Time of Gifts, a memoir by Patrick Leigh Fermor. I looked for it after a friend recommended In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor. I had never heard of Fermor; his memoir interests me more than the letters. The memoir records in extraordinary detail the sights, sounds, smells, music, landscape and the people he met from of every strata of society as he walked across Europe in a time of turmoil, 1933.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis. I read it when I was 10, and it gave me hope that I could find an escape from my humdrum suburban life.
Your top five authors:
Herman Melville, Henry James, John Fowles, Denton Welch and Willa Cather.
Book you've faked reading:
Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis--a high school assignment, one of many I faked.
Book you're an evangelist for:
I try not to be an evangelist for anything.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I have never bought a book for its cover.
Book that changed your life:
There is no one book that changed my life, but almost every book that I have read has opened a new doorway for me.
Favorite line from a book:
From Henry Mitchell on Gardening, a superb collection of his Washington Post "Earthman" columns: "A gardener's life is full of woe." Any gardener will understand.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag, for its combination of historical detail and imaginative reinvention of a period. I read it once and have been wanting to reread it ever since.