Saturday, October 24, 2009

Michael Idov

Michael Idov is a contributing editor at New York magazine and a frequent contributor of Russian-language columns and criticism to major Moscow publications. Ground Up, his first novel, was published this summer by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Earlier this week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
This is one of those questions that tempt you into concocting a beautifully balanced and meaningful self-portrait of a list in response. In the words of Julia Child, Whooo's to knooow? For the sake of honesty, however, here's what I'm actually reading at the moment. And by reading, I mean snatching a few pages here and there between the frequently insane requirements of my journalistic research ("Effect of Neonatal Circumcision on Pain Response During Subsequent Routine Vaccination," anyone?).

The Anthologist, by Nicholson Baker. I'm a few dozen pages in, and this one is proving to be a bit of a slog - odd, since in many ways it's vintage Baker circa Room Temperature or The Mezzanine, both of which I admire. I guess my general indifference to poetry is carrying over to Baker's poet protagonist.

Thunder at Twilight, by Frederic Morton. An amazing portrait of Vienna between 1913 and 1914: the city and the moment in which Trotsky, Freud, Lenin, Hitler, and Josip Broz Tito could have been using the same coffee cup.

Indignation, by Philip Roth. The consistency of his greatness is almost wearying, at this point. There really doesn't seem to be any reason to write realistic U.S.-set novels while the man is still alive.

Russian Journal, by Andrea Lee. I'm hate-reading this one. The writers among you will know the phenomenon. I'm parsing every sentence for proof I could write the same thing but better.

Cultural Amnesia, by Clive James. A great collection of biographical amuse-bouches about the main carriers of the 20th century's humanist thought (the only thought that counts, still).
Visit Michael Idov's website.

--Marshal Zeringue