Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Matt Bondurant

Matt Bondurant’s second novel The Wettest County in the World was a New York Times Editor’s Pick, and one of the San Francisco Chronicle's Best 50 Books of the Year. His first novel The Third Translation (Hyperion 2005) was an international bestseller, translated into 14 languages worldwide. His short fiction has appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, The New England Review, and Glimmer Train, among others. He currently teaches literature and writing in the Arts & Humanities graduate program at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Bondurant's new novel is The Night Swimmer.

Recently I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I’m currently reading Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, which is one of those great books that has long been on my list and I’ve finally gotten around to it. What is surprising to me is the gorgeous prose; I had assumed I would get plenty of rich scenes of Africa but Dinesen’s gifts go far beyond simple landscapes or even dramatic encounters with wildlife. It is a real meditation on solitude, destiny, culture, and so many other things, written in an often understated but always fresh, lyrical and compelling style. I could read her sentences all day.

I also recently just finished Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian, which was a thrilling read, though again not what I expected. As a tale of seagoing adventure and naval warfare it was quite tame (though plenty to satisfy), but what was astonishing throughout was the level of mastery that O’Brian exhibits about sailing vessels, maneuvers, battles, naval life and culture, and all the way down to sails, ropes, and various other minutiae. Mesmerizing.

The last really great novel I just read a couple weeks ago is by Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master’s Son, which came out January 10, same day as my new book. It’s set in North Korea and Johnson spent 8 years on it. It is a tour de force, an epic, the kind of book that fills me with awe and wonder. He’s a brilliant writer. He was the big guy on campus literally and figuratively at Florida State when I was there in graduate school and when he graduated, his shadow loomed over the rest of us. And with this book, that shadow just got a lot larger. But even if I didn’t know him, I’d feel confident in saying that The Orphan Master’s Son will be the biggest novel of 2012.
Learn more about the author and his work at Matt Bondurant's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Wettest County in the World.

--Marshal Zeringue