Monday, August 16, 2010

Matthew Dicks

Matthew Dicks is the author of the novels Something Missing and Unexpectedly, Milo. An elementary school teacher, he was named West Hartford’s Teacher of the Year in 2005 and was a finalist for Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year.

I recently asked him what he was reading. His reply:
The combination of my English major background and a childhood spent playing video games necessitates the reading of several books at one time. As an English major, it was a requirement to walk around with a stack of books, and as a video game player, I fear that my attention span is somewhat lacking. As a result, I enjoy flipping between as many as half a dozen books at a time.

At the moment, I am reading the following books:

Super Sad True Love Story, by Shteyngart, which was just chosen as our next book club novel. The book club member who was responsible for the choosing this month knows nothing about the book, so we are all diving in blind. I’m about ten pages in, and thus far I have been pleased.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, by Allison Hoover Bartlett, which is a book that I am listening to after my mother-in-law recommended it more than once (as she is wont to do). I tend to read a lot of non-fiction while I am working on a manuscript, in fear that an author’s may influence my own voice. I just started work on my fourth novel and was therefore looking for non-fiction when she recommended this book again. Sensing the time was right, I complied with her wishes, as every son-in-law must do from time to time. I have not been disappointed.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Dan Ariely, which is a book that my wife and I are listening to together in the car on long drives. I read Ariely’s first book and enjoyed it very much. This book is written in a similar vein but also provides insight on Ariely’s remarkable life. It’s a bit tedious at times, and the narrator is a little too proper for our taste, but overall we are enjoying it a lot.

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley, who was kind enough to write a review of Something Missing for the Amazon page. His book has been on my shelf for quite a while, and I finally managed to pluck it off and begin reading. I knew nothing about the book before cracking it open and was fooled by the title. I did not expect it to be the clever mystery that it is shaping up to be.

I’m also reading The Complete Golf Manual by Steve Newell in order to improve my game. While I’m finally breaking 100 on an occasional basis, I play with guys who are capable of shooting par on a good day, so I am consistently the worst player amongst my group of friends. I’ve only been playing for three years and need as much help as I can get. This book has been excellent so far and has offered me tips that I am using during every round that I play.

I also continue to read Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut, but I have been reading this book for more than ten years. When Vonnegut announced his retirement in 1997, I realized that Timequake was the only Vonnegut novel that I had yet to read, and therefore it would also be the last new Vonnegut that I would ever read and as such. Kurt Vonnegut is far and away my favorite author, and the thought that I would never encounter another one of his stories for the first time saddened me tremendously, so I vowed to extend Timequake, which I had already started reading, for as long as possible, by reading only a page or two a week but rereading as much as I wanted. It’s been more than ten years since this vow and I am now closing in on the end of the book. Since the announcement of his retirement, Vonnegut went on to publish several books of essays and short stories, including two posthumously, but Timequake remains his final novel, and one that I will continue to stretch out as long as possible.
Visit Matthew Dicks' website and Facebook page.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Matthew Dicks & Kaleigh.

--Marshal Zeringue