A couple of weeks ago I asked the author about what she was reading. Godbersen's reply:
One of the screwy things about book promotion is that by the time your novel comes out, the intensity of the writing -- which once seemed like the only worthwhile use of your days, and so vivid that the characters came with you to dreamland -- has sort of waned, and it feels difficult to explain the ideas that had you by the throat a year or more ago. Ashenden was among the spy fiction that I collected when I was writing the first draft of The Blonde (I was keeping myself on a pretty strict John le Carré, Graham Greene, and Ian Fleming diet in those days), but didn't get around to. I love The Razor's Edge, and Ashenden, the protagonist of these linked stories, is a literary man who, like Maugham himself, begins working for British Intelligence. This seemed like a good thing to read now, to sort of get myself into the right headspace for explaining why I felt compelled to write a spy novel starring Marilyn Monroe.Visit Anna Godbersen's website, Facebook page and Twitter perch.
I always like to have some fiction and nonfiction going at the same time, and right now White Girls fills the latter category. I'm reading it slowly because I don't want it to end -- I read a little bit every night right before I go to bed. Hilton Als' writing feels like the perfect late night interlocutor, the genius friend you call after a dud date from the bathtub to talk about everything and nothing, dissect the culture, gab about what fascinates you, and not feel so alone.
I have always been a sucker for manly man writers -- the riff on 'now' late in For Whom the Bell Tolls is one of my favorite passages in all literature, and I have yet to find a Jim Harrison sentence I don't like -- and at some point I realized it was really important to always have a female novelist on my nightstand. That makes it sound like work, but it's the opposite; to be in the hands of a forceful woman storyteller is a relief and a homecoming. Right now that's Elena Ferrante's The Days of Abandonment. She writes female consciousness, about women's lives, as fearlessly as anybody.
And when Gabriel García Márquez died, I picked up Love in the Time of Cholera, which I've been meaning to revisit for years. Much of it I remember in detail, but it means something different to me now that I'm older. I've been reading this one slowly, too -- those sentences and images are worth sitting with for a stretch.
© 2014 Anna Godbersen, author of The Blonde
Writers Read: Anna Godbersen.