|photo: Hamish Robertson
Andi Teran is a native of El Paso, Tex. Her nonfiction has been published by Vanity Fair, Monocle and the Paris Review Daily. She resides in Los Angeles. Ana of California (Penguin, June 30, 2015) is her first novel.
On your nightstand now:
I just finished Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon, which was an insightful rock-and-roll memoir. My nightstand stack is getting higher and includes The First Bad Man by Miranda July, the latest issue of the Paris Review, Funny Girl by Nick Hornby and the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy because I'm about to pop at any moment.
Favorite book when you were a child:
I had several that were always changing, but I'd have to say it's probably a four-way tie that includes L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach and Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, which I've read more than once. My favorites were typically stories that centered on orphans or young women in the throes of major life changes.
Your top five authors:
Haruki Murakami, for his surrealism and quiet complexity; Donna Tartt, for her engrossing storytelling; Francesca Lia Block, for her ability to capture the magic contained within a young person's heart and mind; Douglas Coupland, for his pop culture symphonies; and Joan Didion, for her spare truth.
Book you've faked reading:
I've never faked reading anything but--please don't gasp--I never finished Pride and Prejudice. I know, I know. I will someday.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Vapor by Amanda Filipacchi. I recommend this book more than any other because it's so weird and wonderful. Aside from the main character being a frustrated actress in New York City, which I was too at one point, the love story Filipacchi weaves is completely unexpected and unlike any other I've ever read. It's sadistic and tender, warped and hilarious. Did I mention it's all set in a house full of clouds? It's an unforgettable read.
Book you've bought for the cover:
So many! I'm a sucker for U.K. editions. My most recent purchase is the U.K. paperback edition of John Wyndham's Trouble with Lichen, which features a fantastic illustration by Brian Cronin. I also love anything designed by Peter Mendelsund, especially his cover for Simone de Beauvoir's The Woman Destroyed.
Book that changed your life:
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. I remember finishing it and holding it to my chest unable to let it go. It's the book that made me want to be a writer and to tackle subjects that affect young people.
Favorite line from a book:
It's difficult to pick a single line, but I've chosen one that has had significant resonance to me in the past few years:
"I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay my finger upon the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and second starts and broken resolves to the exact place on the page where the heroine is no longer as optimistic as she once was." --Joan Didion, "Goodbye to All That" from Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Which character you most relate to:
Jane in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I'm an only child and grew up with an extreme fear of being orphaned. I found Jane's story haunting and familiar, like it might one day be my fate. I loved living in her thoughts and shared both her desire for independence and stance on men and women being equals. It sometimes felt as though I was reading the inside of my own head. Interestingly enough, I did end up sharing a somewhat similar fate only in that I married someone who grew up in Brontë country. I recently visited the Brontë house in Yorkshire, too. Not to put too much meaning into it, but when I walked out of the house into the adjacent meadow, a black cat rubbed up against my leg.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series. I found so much joy escaping into the madcap San Francisco world of 28 Barbary Lane. Maupin writes with an ease and humor that transports you right into the story along with characters who end up feeling more like friends. Every book in the series is endearing and such a delight to read.
Recent favorite book:
Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is easily one of my new favorites. Not to give too much away, but its subject matter creeps up when you're least expecting it to, takes you somewhere else entirely, then leaves you heaving with your heart in your hands wondering why you never saw it coming. To do all this and insert laughter in between the breaking places is a masterful feat.