Saturday, November 08, 2008

Reginald Hill interview ( aka he shares my love of Dickens )

I found this interview with the consommate detective novelist, creator of Dalziel and Pascoe and an all-time favourite, the glorious Reginald Hill. I thought it was hilarious in his acerbic, curmudgeon way.

NOTE: What he says about Dickens and Christmas cards? ... same here!

Book Brahmin: Reginald Hill

"I was born on the third of April 1936 in Hartlepool, U.K. I cried a bit, then fell asleep, and awoke to find myself completing this questionnaire."

But Reginald Hill must have had a few other waking moments, since he's written umpty-some very popular books, particularly his Dalziel and Pascoe mysteries, the latest of which, The Price of Butcher's Meat, was published this past Tuesday by Harper.

On your nightstand now:Upstairs, Making Money by Terry Pratchett (one of the great comic writers); downstairs, The Aeneid translated by Robert Fagles (who sadly died earlier this year but will not be forgotten. I thought his translation of Homer was a masterwork and he hasn't disappointed with his treatment of Virgil), Shakespeare by Bill Bryson (nothing new here, except of course the Bryson humour and readability that has made him such a favourite on this side of the pond at least).

Favorite book when you were a child:Just William (and all its successors) by Richmal Crompton.

Your top five authors:Dickens, Austen, George Eliot, Terry Pratchett, P.G.Wodehouse.

Book you've faked reading:In my younger days I did a bit of faking with stuff like Finnegans Wake, but once I grew up and began to realize no one really gives a damn what I think about a book (or a play or a movie or a pork pie for that matter), faking seemed pointless. Now if I don't like a book after 50 pages, I hurl it aside with great force, but, unless provoked, I try not to elevate my personal taste into a critical position.

Book you're an evangelist for:In a dimly remembered previous existence when I was a teacher, I recall the shock of discovering that for every student who responded to my enthusiasm for any book, poem or play, there'd be at least two who made it clear they thought it was crap. Maybe a better teacher would have done better, but while I will say boldly that I loved, for instance, Cloud Atlas or The Book Thief or The Lord of the Rings, I will not evangelize. (Though anyone who is indifferent to Dickens is immediately expunged from my Christmas card list.)

Book you've bought for the cover:The first Harry Potter paperback, but only because there was also on offer a version with a dull anonymous cover so that sensitive adults didn't have to reveal they were reading a kids' book on the train! That struck me as really sad, so I bought the original and flourished it for all to marvel at my childishness on the way home. Didn't enjoy it all that much though, but who am I to disagree with x million readers across the whole age range?

Book that changed your life:Tess of the D'Urbervilles, not because it turned me into a crusader for the rights of fallen women or anything like that but because when I first read it, at age 15 or so, for the first time I really got it that these great classics also happened to be marvelous reads, giving me the same kind of pleasure plus maybe a bit more as my contemporary reading.

Favorite line from a book:"It was the best of times: it was the worst of times."Another of those books which made me realize that great thrillers didn't start with Dashiell Hammett. I still get a kick out of that opening.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:None really. The books I love re-reading are those that give me something new every time I return to them. Dickens of course, Austen, Eliot, but I see I'm repeating my list of favourites!

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