Sunday, July 6, 2008

Marie Winn

Marie Winn is the author of Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife; Red-Tails in Love: Pale Male's Story; The Plug-In Drug: Televisions, Computers, and Family Life; and many other books. She was born in Prague, but has spent most of her life in New York City, where she lives not far from Central Park.

Late last month I asked her what she reading. Her reply:
I'm the literary equivalent of an over-eater, an over-reader. If reading were fattening I'd be obese. I've just had a fairly long fast, being unable to read for pleasure while in the throes of writing. Now that I've finished my book, I'm making up for it with gluttonous reading. Here are a few of the books I'm reading at the moment, with a word of explanation as to why I'm reading each. I'll also note the likelihood of my finishing them.

The Snake Charmer by Jamie James [Hyperion]. I love snakes. I also have an indirect connection with Joe Slowinski, the California herpetologist whose life and tragic death this book recounts. There's no way I'm not going to finish this book. It's full of fascinating snake lore and tells a gripping story.

In Search of Memory by Eric R Kandel [Norton 2006]. This book has been on my night table for almost two years and now at last I can read it. I'm fascinated by the relatively new science of neurobiology and Kandel is in the forefront of it. Also his history as a refugee from Hitler, detailed in this memoir, somewhat parallels my own. I take in the difficult parts of Kandel's book--the explanations of how the brain works and what happens in what part of it-- the way I do poetry, not always understanding everything but finding myself fathoming it in an almost non-verbal way. I'll probably have it on my night table for many more years as I make my way through it.

The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel [Yale]. I'm dabbling in this beautiful book an editor sent me because she knew I was writing about nocturnal matters. The book has nothing to do with my subject, in fact, but it's about bibliophilia, or perhaps bibliomania, and I'm certainly familiar with both. It reminds me a bit of another book about a book addict--

The Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford, [Picador, 2003] a marvelous literary memoir I savored for many months a few years ago. I simply didn't want to finish it.
Read Michiko Kakutani's review of Central Park in the Dark, and learn more about Marie Winn and her work at her website.

Among the praise for Central Park in the Dark:
"How great is New York? Right in the middle of all that finance and culture and diplomacy, there’s a great reservoir of wildness—and people crazy-wonderful enough to explore it day and night. Marie Winn’s account will make you want to grab your headlamp and head for the park, wherever you live."
—Bill McKibben, author of The Bill McKibben Reader: Pieces from an Active Life
--Marshal Zeringue