What’s your favorite book of all time?
“The End of the Affair,” by Graham Greene. It’s such a beautiful story of the triumph of compassion over cynicism.
Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).
I travel a lot, and having a good book on airplanes and in airports transforms tedium into treasured time. The other day, I was stuck at O’Hare for eight hours, but I had a pre-publication copy of a riveting memoir, “A House in the Sky,” by Amanda Lindhout, about being kidnapped in Somalia. A few of the other travelers were having loud hissy fits, complaining that we were being treated horribly, and I had to bite my tongue to keep from shouting out: “We got food and clean water! You all don’t know how good we have it!”
Who are your favorite novelists?
Updike, Steinbeck, Balzac and Mona Simpson.
Who is your favorite overlooked or underappreciated writer?
I feel a little uncomfortable answering this, because the author I’d choose is quite happy with his level of recognition. Who am I to say he should be more famous?
What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you steer clear of?
I love histories, biographies and memoirs. I’m also drawn to realistic fiction. I’m not a huge fan of experimental fiction, fantasy or so-called escapist literature. Reality is just so interesting, why would you want to escape it?