Monday, March 21, 2011

Ben Dolnick

Ben Dolnick grew up outside of Washington, D.C., and currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife. He is the author of a novel, Zoology, and his work has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times and Five Chapters.

His new novel is You Know Who You Are.

Recently I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
My past year of reading has been dominated by a couple of writers.

(1) I’ve been rereading all of Alice Munro. The non-fiction project that prompted this bout may or may not ever amount to anything, but I’ve been enjoying it hugely and learning a giant amount about what depths are possible within what looks like a fairly ordinary, well-made story. I’ve been reading her chronologically, so I’ve been able to watch her develop in a way I couldn’t really the first time through. She was dauntingly good at 21, but by the time she was fifty or sixty she was just…untouchable.

(2) I’ve been reading Robert Caro’s biographies of Lyndon B. Johnson (I’m now in Master of the Senate, Volume 3). I more or less dozed through every history class I took in school, so I’m learning lots of stuff for the first time: how the Senate works, how rural America got electricity, how west Texas came to look the way it does. And of course I’m learning more about LBJ than I know about all but a very small handful of humans on the planet. As Caro draws him, he’s in many ways a bad guy — dishonest, cowardly, bullying, etc. — but I find myself loving him. I’ll be lined up at the bookstore for Volume 4.
Read an excerpt from You Know Who You Are, and learn more about the book and author at Ben Dolnick's website.

The Page 69 Test: Ben Dolnick's Zoology.

The Page 69 Test: You Know Who You Are.

--Marshal Zeringue