Christine Schutt is the author of two collections of stories, Nightwork and A Day, a Night, Another Day, Summer. She is also the author of the novels Florida, a National Book Award finalist, and All Souls, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her new novel, Prosperous Friends, was published by Grove/Atlantic Press on November 6, 2012.
On your nightstand now:
Antonio Munoz Molina's Sepharad, recommended to me by Mark Strand, a deeply affecting novel about nothing.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Margaret Flack's The Story About Ping, about a domesticated Chinese duck lost on the Yangtze River. Spanking as a punishment terrified me then, as did the perils that befall Ping in avoiding this punishment.
Your top five authors:
This difficult question demands refinement: here are five dead fiction writers whose fictions I never tire of reading: Barry Hannah, William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, Flannery O'Connor and W.G. Sebald.
Book you've faked reading:
I've not faked reading anything, but I have failed to finish many, many books and dismissed them, mumbling over the endings. I am ashamed of this behavior.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Sleepless Nights. Anyone who so much as brushes against Elizabeth Hardwick's novel--is it a novel?--is converted.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I haven't, but if I did, it would be Ben Marcus's The Flame Alphabet.
Book that changed your life:
I have had only romances with books, some heartbreaks, some lasting loves: The Summer Anniversaries by Donald Justice is one such long love. The wonder of the reading life are these enduring encounters.
A favorite line from a novel:
From Cormac McCarthy's Child of God: "Were there darker provinces of night he would have found them." A rivery sentence to carry a reader away.
Book you most want to read again for the first time: