Friday, July 24, 2009

451 Fridays

451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?

Today, I am honored to welcome Emily Listfield, author of Best Intentions, to 451 Fridays. I recently read and enjoyed her novel - you can read my review here. You can find out more about Emily on her website. Thanks for joining us today!

What 5 books do you believe are important enough to be saved?

Important enough? That's tough because I truly believe all books (okay 99.9 percent) should be saved. After that, what, Shakespeare? Emily Dickinson? All I can do is tell you the five books that continually make it through the cut whenever I am parsing my shelves, moving, getting a paint job. These are the ones I save because they have been important to me for different reasons at different times in my life.

Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Flawed but elegiac, romantic, perceptive, and seductive. No one portrays faded glamour and disappointed dreams better than Fitzgerald. In this book, he is tempered, wiser and sadder. He knows the price to be paid for failed romance and would pay it again anyway. There is, too, the allure of the specific time and place (the South of France) that Fitzgerald portrays with the best sort of nostalgia.

The Story of a Marriage, Andrew Sean Greer. One of my favorite books of the past year or so. In sparse, lyrical language Greer makes the conflicted emotions of a marriage painfully clear, deeply personal and universal.

Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton. Wharton is the master of social observation, so acute about how power moves about society and the shifting values that can can make or destroy lives. She is brilliant, too, on the price women pay when society offers them few options and little real education or independence. The social climbing, back-biting, and money envy are so little changed, though so much else has progressed - you can't help but smile knowingly at it. And I love the descriptions of Manhattan, where I live.

Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats. I fell in love with Yeats as a teenager and my appreciation has only grown. As I get older I understand more fully the depth and pathos of his poems about unrequited love, missed opportunities, aging, dreams, regret, rebellion.

Anais Nin's Diaries. I read these as a teenager when the romance of being a writer was just forming. In retrospect, they don't hold up at all - let me state that upfront. But they gave me a vision of what a woman artist could be, and held out the hope that it was not imperative to conform in all ways. Later, of course, I realized what a false vision that was - for example, Nin never mentioned that she was married to a banker, which does make being boho quite a bit easier. And the writing is insanely self-conscious and pretentious to me now. But I can't deny the effect they had on me when I was younger.

Of those 5, which book would you choose to "become"?

If I could have one night at a cocktail party on a moonstruck night in the South of France (Tender is the Night) with brilliant, witty, attractive company I would be quite happy. I would like to wake before the hangover though, before the failed romance and the dashed dreams.

Emily, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us YOUR list of books which much be saved! If you read this blog and have a list of books you'd like to share, drop me a note - I'd love to have you join the fun!


Jenners said...

Wonderfully interesting post! I love when you get authors to share their favorites. I want to read The Story of a Marriage one!

Beth F said...

What a super choice! I'm so glad Fitzgerald will be saved!I love the books you've listed, but I haven't read the Greer so I can't judge that.

I love reading the 451 posts.

bermudaonion said...

This is such a great feature. I keep adding more books to my wish list every week because of it.

Padfoot and Prongs - Good Books Inc. said...

wow was so glad to see Tender is the Night on there! Esp that you would become it, esp since the book has such a realistic portrayal of life and romance. Glad to see you would not take the easy way out. But I guess living on the French Rivera would have its perks too haha.

Serena said...

what a great list of books. And poetry! I like her more already!