|photo: Nissim Ram
Susan Daitch is the author of the novels L.C., The Colorist, Paper Conspiracies and a collection, Storytown. Her novel The Lost Civilization of Suolucidir was recently published by City Lights Books (July 2016). Her work has been the recipient of an NEA Heritage Award, a Lannan Foundation Selection, two Vogelstein grants and a NYFA Fellowship. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Guernica, Conjunctions, Slice, Tin House, Black Clock and elsewhere. She has taught at Columbia, the Iowa Writers Workshop and Hunter College. Her thriller White Lead will be published in November by Random House.
On your nightstand now:
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert and Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. Though one is fiction and the other nonfiction, they're both about environmental disasters, both wake up calls and beautifully written. Feynman, a graphic biography of physicist Richard Feynman by Jim Ottoviani, illustrated by Leland Myrick. Feynman looked at the universe in terms of peeling back the outer layer to reveal the homunculi underneath. I can't figure out the homunculi at all, so I'm very interested in those who can. Also Seth Fried's The Great Frustration, short stories.
Favorite book when you were a child:
There are so many, I don't know where to begin. When I hoped to read some of my favorite children's books to my son, I was disappointed that so many were long out of print, and it seems to me there ought to be a way to keep these books from totally disappearing. Even writers like Maurice Sendak, Louise Fitzhugh and Astrid Lindgren wrote incredible books that can't be found anywhere. If I have to pick one: A Wolf in the Family by Jerome Hellmuth, a true story about a family in Seattle that raises a wolf.
Your top five authors:
Primo Levi, Georges Perec, Irène Némirovsky, Haruki Murakami and Art Spiegelman.
Book you've faked reading:
Perfidia by James Ellroy. I love Ellroy's crime novels, including this one, but got lost with all the characters. His acrobatics with language are stunning. I'm shocked and awed. My inability to get through it is my problem, not his.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Tropisms by Nathalie Sarraute, championed by Sartre. How to write with no proper nouns.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Child of Tomorrow and Other Stories by Al Feldstein. Feldstein wrote and drew science fiction comics. The cover is pure space exploration futuristic nostalgia.
Book you hid from your parents:
There were none.
Book that changed your life:
Hitchcock, the interviews between Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut. In mapping out how suspense works in movies, these interviews can also be a wonderful resource on writing, as well.
Favorite line from a book:
"They don't go to the police because it's dull." --Alfred Hitchcock talking to Truffaut about Psycho. In other words, don't solve problems the easy or obvious way.
Five books you'll never part with:
The Periodic Table of the Elements by Primo Levi
The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God by Etgar Keret
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
Men in Space by Tom McCarthy
Party Going by Henry Green
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. The pleasure of not just connecting all the pieces situated in different periods and styles, but that each chapter was connected by a common thread: a critique of slavery and the many forms it can take.