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Profile of a Reader: Meme

Thank you so much for your congratulatory remarks on the blog’s milestone. The blog would not be possible withoutyou, the readers, who have been my inspiration. With an imminent deadline for The 19th Wife review, I have to borrow this bookish meme (and return to reading) from Elena at With Extra Pulp, a literary blog that I have recently discovered.

1. What author do you own the most books by?
It’s a battle between Fyodor Dostoevsky and Alan Hollinghurst. Dostoevsky wins by one title. Crime and Punishment, The Best Short Stories, The Double, The Brothers Karamazov, Notes From Underground, and The Idiot. By Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library, The The Folding Star, The Spell, The Line of Beauty. Jose Saramago and W. Somerset Maugham tie for third place.

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, my all-time favorite novel and book in general. One copy for each of the four translations.

3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Well yes, but what can I do about it?

4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Hmm…that would be Morris from Letter From Point Clear by Dennis MacFarland, one of the most overlooked novel from last year. Morris is a gay professor who prepares himself for the foray into Alabama, where his sister has married to a pastor, for inevitable brushes with racism, homophobia.

5. What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children)?
Again, like Question 2, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It’s the novel on modern Russia. It’s well-written and entertaining hybrid of a social satire, an allegory, and literature.

6. What was your favourite book when you were ten years old?
Probably something by Robert A. Dahl.

7. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
Perfume by Patrick Süskind. It’s just gruesome!

8. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
The Future of Love by Shirley Abbot (published 2008). The book pans into the personal struggles, for love and hope, in a skein of characters who are related by marriage and friendship. The tragic event on 9/11 brought to their senses how much they have to cherish one another.

9. If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
Again, The master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I’ve made all my friends read it.

10. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
Milan Kundera.

11. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
At this moment, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. The narrator is Enzo, a chocolate labador. I would also like a movie made out of Olive Kitteridge.

12. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
On the Road because it’s too grim.

13. What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

14. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Books that I had to re-read and back-track, like The Death of Virgil (if you think Virginia Woolf’s stream of consciousness is difficult) by Herman Broch and Ulysses by James Joyce.

15. Roth or Updike? David Sedaris or Dave Eggers? Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer? Austen or Eliot?
Roth. Sedaris. Shakespeare. Austen.

32 Responses

  1. Congratulations on your 1000th post! I’ve heard good things about Letter from Point Clear but our library doesn’t have a copy and I’ve never seen it in bookstores around here. As you know, we share love for Dostoevsky, Saramago and Maugham. I haven’t read Hollinghurst but since he’s up there with your faves, there’s a good chance I’m going to love him, too. Will try him this year. I also agree with Kundera for the Nobel. And, btw, have you read The Satanic Verses. Two other bloggers (I think Steph and another, I forgot who) mentioned that Rushdie wrote it with The Master and Margarita in mind.

  2. I bought a copy of The Master and Margarita last week. I didn’t realise there were four different translations – which is the best? I’ve got the graphic novel – should I really read the text first?

  3. One of these days I’m going to have to break down and get The Master and Margarita! I think I’ve seen you mention it…a couple dozen times? I read The Line of Beauty, and it was absolutely amazing.

  4. I’ve pulled Letter From Point Clear off the TBR shelf and put it on the nightstand. Thanks for mentioning it.

    And, congratulations on your 1000th post.

  5. It looks like they are making The Art of Racing in the Rain into a movie. Patrick Dempsey bought the rights to it. Garth Stein has a video link (mention of the book is at the end) mention on his Twitter.


  6. Claire:
    Now that you have mentioned the subtle relations between The Master and Margarita and The Satanic Verses, the latter is getting to the front of the line! I’ve never read Rushdie for the same reason many readers have avoided Toni Morrison.

  7. Jackie (Farm Lane Books):
    I prefer the translation by Professor Diane Burgin, published under Vintage Contemporary Classics, with a burgundy color cover and a silhouette of the cat. Pavear/Voloronsky translation under Penguins is also good. 🙂

  8. Sandy:
    I certainly do! Every once in a while I need to shout out about the book so everyone reading my blog knows about it! 🙂 You’ve gotta read it Sandy!

  9. CB James:
    I’m so sad you’re going to read Letter from Point Clear, like I said, it’s overlooked by readers. I’m not sure if Dennis MacFarland even launched a book tour to promote it last year. It’s very well-written.

  10. 1. Jane Austen, I have all of her novels, plus her letters and some of her Juvenilia.
    2. War and Peace; I have three translations
    3. The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, third edition, Oxford University Press, has some interesting comments about prepositions ending sentences.
    4. I have perfervid poly-amorous fantasies over Edmund Bertram from Mansfield Park and Edward Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility
    5. War and Peace. Only three times all the way through, but I’ve reread various sections and passages so many times, it seems appropriate to choose this title.
    6. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
    9. It’s a toss up between War and Peace, Master and Margarita and Jane Eyre. I urge anyone who is considering Master and Margarita to get a copy. I consider it my discovery of the decade (thanks to this blog).
    15. I’ve never heard of either Sedaris or Eggers, but between the others: Updike (with reservations, I really don’t know Roth all that well, so I could easily reverse this), Shakespeare, Austen

  11. I have not read Perfume but I will say the movie based on it was one of the silliest ones I have ever seen

  12. Great variety here, I really want to read Ulysses, working my way up to it. I didn’t notice how much of a classics reader I was until I did this meme. Such a great time-killer 🙂

  13. Question 15: We’re the same, but I’d pick Chaucer.

  14. I’m glad I’m not the only one obsessed with “The Master and Margarita”. I read it a few months ago and I already want to reread it. I’m not even sure why I think it’s so brilliant, but there’s something so utterly genius to it.

  15. Greg S:
    I lost track of the number of times I read The Master and Margarita…because I re-read it at my interest and also teach it on a regular basis. I tie with you in War and Peace. 🙂

  16. mel:
    Everybody raves about the book but I have to say it’s not up my alley at all!

  17. Elena:
    As you see I didn’t get to finish the whole thing, I pick the ones that are most interesting! 🙂

  18. Beth F:
    It’s been ages since I read Milton, whom I don’t miss. 🙂

  19. Biblibio:
    I felt like every time I re-read the book, I learn something new. That’s the genius of it. 🙂

  20. I’ve never heard of the Master and Margarita but it sounds intriguing…I really liked reading this post Matt!!

  21. Staci:
    I hope more bloggers will discover the fun and genius the novel has to offer. 🙂

  22. […] Matthew’s continual repetition of his love for The Master and Margarita managed to persuade me to part with my cash, and I now have a copy winging it’s way to me – I hope it lives up to his claims!! […]

  23. Hahaha the Master and Margarita is genius! It’s such a feeling of elation when you can share it with someone else.

    I lent my copy to my sister in Melbourne who I probably won’t see again for months, and her telling me how much she is loving it is enough to make up for the fact that i might never see that copy of my book again.

  24. Such a great meme! The Future of Love is on my list thanks to you 🙂
    Oh and I’m late but congrats on the 1000th post landmark!

  25. Elena:
    I’ve been on this PR campaign for the novel, which I make my friends read! 🙂

  26. iliana:
    At some points the book is very sad to read, but fiction is supposed to evoke and cut the slice of life for readers who haven’t had experience like those who suffer in the book. I hope you enjoy reading it.

  27. I despised Perfume!
    Very interesting.

  28. […] Matthew’s raving about The Master and Margarita persuaded me to buy a copy. It arrived in the post this morning, so will probably be the first one I read. […]

  29. Da Vinci Code is the most lowbrow book I’ve read as an adult, too, though in my defense, an audio copy was forced upon me and I listened to it over a long drive. Here’s my unnecessarily long review about why it sucks:


  30. […] Matthew’s raving about The Master and Margarita persuaded me to buy a copy, and I am very pleased I read it, although it has to be the most bizarre book I have ever read! […]

  31. I’m glad someone else thought that Perfume was a load of rubbish!

  32. notinparis and jennygirl:
    I was just grossed out by the story. What the hype?!

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