Yesterday, I blogged about “The Wind Is Not A River”, a gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife — separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil — fight to reunite in Alaska’s starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands. This was my first book by Brian Payton, and I am anxious to read his other books, especially The Ice Passage: a True Story of Ambition, Disaster, and Endurance in the Arctic Wilderness, because I just love a good survival story! Read the full blog here.
Today, I am happy to blog about Brian Payton’s reading preferences that he shared with me. This is the first in a series of blogs where I will talk to authors about their books and the books they are reading. Enjoy!
Question and Answer with Brian Payton:
On your nightstand now:
I alternate between fiction and nonfiction and often find myself reading both simultaneously. Right now, my wife is readingUnconditional Parenting (Alphie Kohn) aloud to me, because we have two children under the age of two and I am unconditionally confused. I am reading The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt, for the wild, exuberant ride, and The Once and Future World by J.B. MacKinnon for a deep look at the nature of nature, and the possibilities of “rewilding” our world.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Honestly, I can’t remember much of what I read as a child, beyond the Hardy Boys mysteries, ghostwritten by authors collectively known as “Franklin W. Dixon.” Then, as now, I loved being read to. I remember being mesmerized by my stunningly beautiful third grade teacher, who read E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web to the class. I was hooked on every word.
Your top five authors:
In no particular order: John Steinbeck, Earnest Hemingway, Graham Greene, Roddy Doyle, and Ian McEwan.
Book you’re an evangelist for:
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. An account of a search for elusive beasts, it is both a physical and existential adventure story that wrestles with our place in nature, the nature of love and loss, the meaning of time, the meaning of meaning. And Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, the only book I’ve read that truly made me laugh and cry out loud all in the space of a single page. Brilliant. Neither title needs any help from the likes of me.
Book you’ve bought for the cover:
None. However, I am convinced of the power of good design. I’ve been attracted to countless beautiful or intriguing covers only to discover beautiful or intriguing stories inside. I often discover for the cover, but buy for the words.
Book that changed your life:
I read Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath when I was 14, and it shook me to the core. I vividly remember savoring the final scene while on the road, curled up in the hatchback of our Ford Pinto (infamous for having its gas tank behind the bumper) because there were not enough seats for all us kids. By the time I reached the ending, I was sobbing loud enough to require explanation. I knew then that I had magic in my hands and wanted to become a magician.
Brian Payton has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe. He lives with his family in Vancouver. For more information about Brian Payton visit his website, www.brianpayton.com.