Friday, December 3, 2010

Catherine Gildiner

Catherine Gildiner wrote her doctoral thesis on the influence of Darwin on Freud, and has been a clinical psychologist in private practice for several years. She also writes a psychological advice column for Chatelaine magazine and has written numerous newspaper articles.

Her first book, the memoir Too Close to the Falls, was published in Canada, the US and the UK to wide acclaim. It is followed by After the Falls which covers her life from the ages of 13-21.

Recently I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I just reread David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I read it in high school but a friend of mine writes Victorian mysteries and he was saying that rereading Dickens helped him to create character. I remembered Peggoty and all the characters from the book for so many years I decided to reread it. I wanted to figure out how Dickens could make a memorable character in just a few lines. I loved rereading the book from the point of view of the writer. Once a character is created he never steps out of character. No matter how good or bad he becomes you understand his core. I am now rereading all of Dickens. I am now a bit stuck on Our Mutual Friend which is more 'modern' than some of the others and spins less of a yarn.

I also just finished Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. The literary device of using the tightrope walker who travels between the Twin Towers in New York is a magical device. Usually literary devices of that kind have such a false ring, but since New York is so crammed together and so its inhabitants are so disparate in income the tightrope walking spectacle brings the most unlikely people together. The writing is gifted in the way that so much Irish writing is-- The profundity seems so effortless.

I just finished The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. It is about a small English speaking newspaper in Rome. Rachman's description of place is spot on. You can smell the musty carpet and all of the machines that don't work. While each character is flawed they are all admirable and I liked the book very much.

I also just reread Villette by Charlotte Brontë. I didn't like it as a teenager and decided I must have been immature. I just finished it and really didn't like to again! The problem is the protagonist, Lucy Snow: she is so passive, secretive and repressed that the reader loses interest in her.
Visit Catherine Gildiner's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: After the Falls.

--Marshal Zeringue