Welcome to the Book Marks Questionnaire, where we ask authors questions about the books that have shaped them.
This week, we spoke to the author of Fake Accounts, Lauren Oyler.
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Lauren Oyler: A Wrinkle in Time. I read it so many times. And it’s not quite a children’s book, but I was obsessed with the Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison when I was 11 or 12.
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
LO: Explicitly, it’s in conversation with Ben Lerner’s novels, Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, Katie Kitamura’s A Separation, fragmented novels and essays, Norman Rush’s Mating, and then your usual masters. Sorry if this is cheating. But it’s really in conversation with a lot of books! Books are a theme.
BM: A book that blew your mind?
BM: Last book you read?
LO: Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan.
BM: A book that made you cry?
LO: When people say a book made them cry, do they mean they teared up? I don’t think I’ve ever full-on cried over a book, but Women Talking by Miriam Toews is one that comes to mind. It’s really very moving in a hard-to-pull-off way.
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
LO: Mary South’s You Will Never Be Forgotten. She handles dramatic contemporary issues in such a delicate, interesting way. I’m sorry I didn’t read it when it first came out! (In March 2020…)
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
LO: The Sellout by Paul Beatty.
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
LO: It depends on the person! But The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt, which could be my answer to many of these.
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
BM: What’s a book with a really great sex scene?
LO: Cleanness by Garth Greenwell. That’s obvious, but oh well. The consensus is right!
BM: Favorite book no one has heard of?
LO: The Distant Lover by Christoph Hein. Maybe people have heard of it. Germans, yes? Others I don’t know.
BM: Favorite book of the 21st century?
LO: I mean, as I said before. But in the interest of variety I will say 10:04.
BM: Favorite book you were assigned in high school?
LO: Can I do college? I don’t remember being assigned anything besides the usual suspects in high school. But I was very taken with so many things in college, maybe because I sort of came to it late. Lolita and Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror are the ones I remember really distinctly. But I also really loved doing Chaucer!
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
LO: Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic and Donald Judd’s Writings. I also just got Iris Murdoch’s letters because of a Twitter tip about the Princeton University Press sale, and I think technically you could say I’m reading that, even if I’m not being super active about it.
Lauren Oyler’s essays on books and culture have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, London Review of Books, The Guardian, New York magazine’s The Cut, The New Republic, Bookforum, and elsewhere. Born and raised in West Virginia, she now divides her time between New York and Berlin.
Lauren Oyler’s Fake Accounts is out now from Catapult