Welcome to the Book Marks Questionnaire, where we ask authors questions about the books that have shaped them.
This week, we spoke to spoke to The Peacock Feast author Lisa Gornick.
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Lisa Gornick: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. How could a little girl not love “To the tiger in the zoo/ Madeline just said, ‘Pooh-pooh.”
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
LG: The Last Tiffany: A Biography of Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham—a portrait of a remarkable woman who bridged centuries, continents, and world views, and became Anna Freud’s partner in life and love.
BM: A book that blew your mind?
LG: Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton: the depth of emotion that resides in what’s not said.
BM: Last book you read?
LG: Bellow’s Seize the Day. No comment.
BM: A book that made you cry?
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
LG: The Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca, with the original Spanish on the left-hand page and the English, by 18 translators, on the right.
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
BM: Favorite book no one has heard of?
LG: Embers, by Sandor Marai. Imagine a 75-year-old general instructing his 91-year-old nursemaid to prepare his shrouded castle for the arrival after 40 years of his nemesis.
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
LG: I’m on a short story kick, and am reading/rereading Alice Munro’s Runaway, Deborah Eisenberg’s Your Duck is My Duck (that title!), William Trevor’s Cheating at Canasta, and Selected Stories Anton Chekhov. And, I’m listening to Toni Morrison’s narration of the audiobook of Beloved, her voice so powerful and seductive, it bores into your brain.
BM: Book you wish would be adapted for a film/tv show?
LG: Improvement, by Joan Silber, with its rogue gallery of characters—inept cigarette and antiquities smugglers, an Istanbul rug merchant, an eyebrow waxer—and each chapter both a stand-alone story and part of a larger intricately woven tale.
Lisa Gornick is the author of Louisa Meets Bear, Tinderbox, and A Private Sorcery. Her stories and essays have appeared widely, including in The New York Times, The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Real Simple, and The Wall Street Journal. She holds a B.A. from Princeton and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Yale, and is on the faculty of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. A long-time New Yorker, she lives in Manhattan with her family.
Lisa Gornick’s The Peacock Feast is out now in paperback from Picador.