|photo: Anita Licis-Ribak
Amity Gaige is the author of the novels O My Darling and The Folded World. Her essays, articles and stories have appeared in the Yale Review, the Literary Review, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and other publications. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, residencies at the MacDowell and Yaddo Colonies, a Baltic Writing Residency Fellowship and, in 2006, she was recognized by the National Book Foundation as one of five outstanding emerging writers under 35. She is currently a visiting writer at Amherst College, Amherst, Mass., where she lives with her family. Gaige's latest novel, Schroder (Twelve, February 5, 2013), recounts the seven days a father spends on the road with his daughter after kidnapping her during a parental visit.
On your nightstand now:
Two novels by Brits: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, and The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn. Also the engrossing Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) by Stacy Schiff. Plus--in the name of full disclosure--a book about how to get your fussy baby to go to sleep, called On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam.
Favorite book when you were a child:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.
Your top five authors:
For the sheer beauty and insight of his sentences, John Updike, specifically his short stories and the Rabbit tetralogy. I'd read Janet Malcolm's grocery list if she published it; she sees so clearly. Along those lines I might call Virginia Woolf the greatest prose writer in English, and Vladimir Nabokov the writer who most makes me want to write. Can I add here also Richard Ford and the powerful Annie Proulx?
Book you've faked reading:
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.
Book you're an evangelist for:
I love the brilliant and slim Joe Gould's Secret by Joseph Mitchell. It's Mitchell's portrait, which he began on assignment from the New Yorker in the 1930s, of a West Village bohemian who claimed to be writing a great work of literature. Joe Gould's Secret is about ambition, and dreams, and the writing life, and self-deception. It was the last thing Mitchell ever wrote; read it.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. I'll know I've made it when somebody puts my name in a font like that.
Book that changed your life:
Honestly? The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts. I read it on a ferry to Martha's Vineyard years ago, in high wind, days before my wedding.
Favorite line from a book:
"When the spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest." --from A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
I happen to share a hometown with John Updike--Reading, Pa. When I read Rabbit Run, at the age of 21, while away at college, I felt that Updike had made the city far more vivid than it ever felt to me when I was there. It's almost as if I first apprehended the power of literature with that book; I saw that a great book gives the real world back to you transformed.