Martha Moody is the author of Sharp and Dangerous Virtues (just published by Swallow Press) and three previous novels: Best Friends, The Office of Desire and Sometimes Mine, which together have sold close to one million copies. She retired after 15 years of practicing medicine to spend more time writing and with her husband and four sons. She also volunteers as a physician in a clinic for the working poor, as a writing teacher for schools and arts centers, in the Dayton Jewish community and as an organizer of a long-term project to teach English to Arab-Israeli students in the Galilee. Moody lives in Dayton, Ohio.
On your nightstand now:
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach; My One Square Inch of Alaska by Sharon Short (novel, advance copy); Ultima Thule by Davis McCombs (poems); Hebrew Ulpan 6 (textbook).
Favorite book when you were a child:
Younger child: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle.
Teenager: Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake.
Your top five authors:
Alice Munro, William Trevor, Tomas Transtromer, A.B Yehoshua, Carol Shields. Shields is gone now, but the others are veteran (I mean, old!) writers whose past and present works both thrill and comfort me.
Book you've faked reading:
I have never finished anything by Don DeLillo, but I think I've said I did.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. The perfect novel, in my opinion. Two of my sons have written high school papers on it, and both of them found things that surprised me.
Book you've bought for the cover:
The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett (the '98 edition, with a white rabbit sitting on an armchair). Glad I bought it, too.
Book that changed your life:
Conversation in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas-Llosa. I read this in college when I was writing poetry and thought: wow, this is amazing and complicated and I sort of understand how Vargas Llosa did it. I should write fiction.
Favorite line from a book:
"Live all you can--it's a mistake not to." --From The Ambassadors by Henry James.
"Experience, its beautiful slag." --From The Half-Finished Heaven by Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robert Bly.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Feather Crowns by Bobbie Ann Mason. I read it knowing nothing about it, and that was a wonderful thing.
What three things can always be found in your refrigerator?
I've always wanted someone to ask that question! Coffee yogurt, red pepper hummus and white wine.