Sunday, June 29, 2008

Darin Strauss

Darin Strauss is the international bestselling author of the New York Times Notable books Chang and Eng and The Real McCoy. Also a screenwriter, he is adapting Chang and Eng with Gary Oldman, for Disney. The recipient of a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction writing, he is a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU's Graduate school.

His new book is More Than It Hurts You.

Earlier this month I asked Strauss what he was reading. His reply:
I've been reading Between the Bridge and the River by Craig Ferguson, frankly because I was a guest on his show; I picked it up for careerist reasons, simply because I thought it'd be smart to read what the host had written. But this is, in fact, a really quite literary, moving, smart novel. When does he have the time to write literary fiction and be a late night talk show host? I really recommend it. It's very much like Roddy Doyle's stuff, but maybe a little lighter.

Also, I'm re-reading Time's Arrow, by Martin Amis. I think he's under-rated, famous as he is. He's the best stylist out of the UK since VS Pritchett, I think, and as funny as Nabokov. In the generation of English-language writers after Updike's, I think he musters the best sentences, page after page. At least he does in his best stuff (Money, this book, Visiting Mrs. Nabokov, and even London Fields.) And this book -- gimmick though it is -- really shows how you can use your material to create suspense. Because of the structure of the book, everything the character does is interesting -- even (especially?) going to the bathroom.

Finally, I'm reading Remains of the Day, because I'm teaching a "craft class" for NYU's Graduate Writing program in the fall, and -- as I think Christopher Hitchens said -- this book's narrator was born to be unreliable. It's a great thing to read, if you want to learn that trick, that very hard thing to pull off: making your narrator say one thing, while communicating another to the reader. This book does it effortlessly.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, on More Than It Hurts You:
“This book is harrowing, hurtling, heartbreaking and—more than anything— devastatingly accurate. Darin Strauss (a novelist whose talents sometime seem limitless to me) has created characters whose complexities and dark motivations—though they are always hidden from each other, and even sometimes from themselves — are never hidden from their author. This is a brilliant, sharp, suspenseful novel, impossible to turn your gaze from.”
Visit Darin Strauss's website to learn more about him and his work, and visit Newsweek's "Booked" blog to read about his book tour.

--Marshal Zeringue