Monday, November 23, 2009

John J. Miller

John J. Miller writes for National Review, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He is the author of several books, a contributing editor of Philanthropy magazine, and a consultant to grantmaking foundations.

His latest novel is The First Assassin.

Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
If you don’t count children’s stories at bedtime, the book I’ve read more than any other is probably The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth. I haven’t just read it; I’ve studied it. Nobody has ever written a better thriller. The characters are well drawn and the story moves at a brisk pace. The setting may be more dated than it once was, but now it seems rooted in history rather than surpassed by events. You know how the tale has to finish: It cannot end with de Gaulle’s assassination. Yet you’re never too sure, and you desperately want to learn how the plot unfolds.

One of my main freelance gigs is to write about literature for the Wall Street Journal. For the past four years, I’ve used Halloween as a news peg -- i.e., an excuse to comment on classic horror lit: M.R. James, Arthur Machen, and Bram Stoker. This year, my victim was Shirley Jackson. The Haunting of Hill House is the world’s greatest haunted-house story. Nothing tops it. Except maybe Hell House, by Richard Matheson. I’ve read a bit of Matheson -- I Am Legend, short stories such as “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” etc. -- but not this title. It’s on my shelf as well as my must-read list. Maybe next year?
Visit John J. Miller's website.

--Marshal Zeringue