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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Five Questions: House of Mirth

1. Why do you blog?
For me, a fit of pique is always a wonderful motivator, and that’s what got me started as a blogger: annoyance at something I had read. But that’s not sufficient motive in the long run. What keeps me going is the opportunity to share my enthusiasms. I see that as the ultimate role of blogging (for me, anyway), since longer critical pieces and essays take time to write, and if I’m going to take the time, I need to get paid. Oh, and it’s fun.

2. Which author and/or book has most influenced you?
It would be hard to narrow my answer down to a single book or author. Today, at 12:59 PM, I’m particularly enamoured of a little book of conversations with Natalia Ginzburg called It’s Hard To Talk About Yourself. And also a volume of poetry by David Kirby, The House of Blue Light. Tomorrow, who knows? In the long run, I’ve certainly been influenced by Primo Levi, Penelope Fitzgerald, Nicholson Baker, J.F. Powers, Alice Munro, Vladimir Nabokov, Charles Portis, John Updike, W.G. Sebald, Joseph Roth, Randall Jarrell, Charles Baxter, Flann O’Brien and so on.

3. Which three blogs do you most visit?
Probably MetaxuCafe at: (for its handy, one-stop-shop aggregation of other blogs), Anecdotal Evidence at: (the most bookish), and About Last Night at: (all arts, all the time).

4. Why do you read fiction?
To be amused and enlightened. And to escape the narrow ambit of my own life and see what other people are up to.

5. What makes you laugh?
Just about anything – keeping in mind Flann O’Brien’s classic line about laughter being the handmaiden of sorrow and fear.

James Marcus blogs at House of Mirth, which can be found here:

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