Friday, November 26, 2010

Jay Kirk

Jay Kirk's nonfiction has been published in Harper's, GQ, the New York Times Magazine, and The Nation. His work has been anthologized in Best American Crime Writing 2003 and Best American Crime Writing 2004, and Best American Travel Writing 2009 (edited by Simon Winchester). He is a recipient of a 2005 Pew Fellowship in the Arts and is a MacDowell Fellow. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

His new book is Kingdom Under Glass: A Tale of Obsession, Adventure, and One Man's Quest to Preserve the World's Great Animals.

Earlier this month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Ideally I would have some kind of machine that decides what I read each night. Like a vending machine where I put in a coin, and a book comes out, and I can’t put in another slug for another book. Such a machine might make me a more committed reader. Instead, what often happens is, I’ll read ten pages of something, dislike it, and then read three more things, dislike that too, or just not get into the groove, and then I have to go search my bookshelves, which I’ve been doing for fifteen years or so now. It’s a really bad habit. It’s not like this always happens to me though. I’ll go for months happily reading, loving everything I pick up, gaining momentum. But then I find myself back in this purgatory of indecision, caught between a history, a novel, or a how-to. Sometimes, on especially bad nights, I’ll just read the dictionary. It drives my wife, a librarian, crazy. However, lately, I did re-subscribe to the New York Times, to the paper version that actually arrives at my door, and in a way this has temporarily solved the problem. I also recently began reading War and Peace on a Kindle (having messed up my rotator cuff, so that reading anything that big is just too painful; going Kindle was not my first choice, but it’s turned out to not be such a bad thing). I read most of Franzen’s Freedom on my Kindle, too. I probably shouldn’t mention it here, though, since the Kindle is actually on loan from, and I was supposed to return it like six months ago. They’ll probably read this now and then remove the “buy” button for my book.
Read an excerpt from Kingdom Under Glass, and learn more about the book and author at Jay Kirk's website.

The Page 99 Test: Kingdom Under Glass.

--Marshal Zeringue