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, and editor of The Golden Age of the American Essay, Philip Lopate.
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Phillip Lopate: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.
BM: Favorite re-read?
PL: The Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb.
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
PL: The Glorious American Essay, edited by Phillip Lopate (me!).
BM: A book that blew your mind?
PL: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs.
BM: Last book you read?
PL: The Dolphin Letters, correspondence between Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick, edited by Saskia Hamilton.
BM: A book that made you cry?
PL: I can’t think of any. Though I tear up frequently at movies, very sad narratives in print make me feel stoical and elevated.
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
PL: What Are You Going Through? by Sigrid Nunez.
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
BM: What’s one book you wish you had read during your teenage years?
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
PL: The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa.
BM: Classic book you hate?
PL: The Catcher in the Rye (“Hate” is too strong a word: let’s just say “quietly dislike” or “don’t connect with”).
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read Pile?
PL: Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann.
BM: What’s a book with a really great sex scene?
PL: Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth.
BM: Favorite book no one has heard of?
PL: Nervous People by Mikhail Zoshchenko.
BM: Favorite book of the 21st Century?
BM: Favorite book you were assigned in high school?
PL: The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
PL: Proust (slowly).
BM: Favorite children’s book?
PL: Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
BM: Book you wish would be adapted for a film/tv show?
PL: The Burning Brand by Cesare Pavese.
Phillip Lopate is the author of To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction and of four essay collections, Bachelorhood, Against Joie de Vivre, Portrait of My Body, and Portrait Inside My Head. He is the editor of the anthologies The Art of the Personal Essay, Writing New York, and American Movie Critics. He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. He is professor of writing at Columbia University’s nonfiction MFA program, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
The Golden Age of the American Essay 1945-1970 is out now from Anchor Books