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 Follow Me to Ground, Sue Rainsford.
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Sue Rainsford: Somewhat ridiculously, The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe.
BM: Favorite re-read?
SR: I’m a terrible re-reader, I might dip back in and read a few pages at a time but I hardly ever re-read a book in full. If there’s a book I’ve come close to re-reading it’s probably Ágota Kristóf’s The Notebook.
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
SR: I’ve always struggled with this question. When I was in the actual process of writing it, I felt it was conversing with Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Faulkner’s The Wild Palms and My Abandonment by Peter Rock. Nonfiction-wise I see it as landing somewhere between Barbara Creed’s The Monstrous Feminine and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex.
BM: A book that blew your mind?
SR: Anything by Bhanu Kapil, but especially Humanimal: a project for future children.
BM: Last book you read?
BM: A book that made you cry?
SR: Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. I read it in 2016 and still think of Jude every other day.
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
SR: The Seventh Mansion by Maryse Meijer. I love everything about her as a writer; the rhythm of her prose, her visceral imagery, how she cuts to the deep quick of sensual experience and allows it to be both violent and tender.
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
SR: Ben Lerner’s 10:04. The whole trilogy actually made me laugh a lot and it was a really wonderful reading experience, as typically I only laugh at things that aren’t supposed to be funny.
BM: What’s one book you wish you had read during your teenage years?
SR: I was very lucky to have access to a lot of wide-ranging books growing up, and I think any of the books I now wish I’d read I probably wouldn’t have been ready to digest at the time. All the same, books like Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water, Anne Boyer’s The Undying and The Red Word by Sarah Henstra would have been useful in figuring out how to navigate the inherent precarity female bodies are confronted with on a daily basis, and learning how to look around the corners of what people try to tell you about your body and its desires.
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
SR: The Mysteries of Udolpho! I’ve been reading it on and off for years.
BM: What’s a book with a really great sex scene?
SR: Niamh Campbell’s This Happy. I love how precisely she captures the ambivalence that is often a basic premise of being physically intimate with another human.
BM: Favorite book no one has heard of?
SR: Kerstin Ekman’s Blackwater. People are familiar with Ekman’s Under the Snow, but I haven’t come across anyone who’s heard of Blackwater. Once I opened it I could not stop reading it. (It’s about to be made into a series by the same people who made The Killing, which will hopefully bring more readers its way.)
BM: Favorite book of the 21st century?
BM: Favorite book you were assigned in high school?
SR: I loathed pretty much all of them, I think.
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
BM: Favorite children’s book?
SR: Hello? Is There Anybody There? by Jostein Gaardner.
BM: Book you wish would be adapted for a film/tv show?
SR: The Need by Helen Phillips.
Sue Rainsford is an Irish fiction and arts writer living in Dublin. She is a recipient of the VAI/DCC Art Writing Award, the Arts Council Literature Bursary Award and a MacDowell Fellowship. Her debut novel, Follow Me To Ground, received the Kate O’Brien Award when it was first published in Ireland by New Island Books, was long-listed for the Desmond Elliot Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Award when it was published in the UK with Doubleday, and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews when it was published in the US with Scribner. Her second novel, Redder Days, is forthcoming in March 2021 with Doubleday.
Sue Rainsford’s Follow Me to Ground is out now in paperback from Scribner