Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stephanie Spinner

Stephanie Spinner is the author of many books for young readers, including Damosel, Aliens for Breakfast, Paddywack, and Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird. After a distinguished career in children's book publishing, she is now a full-time writer.

Recently I asked the author what she was reading.  Spinner's reply:
I'm always reading a few books at once--the stacks on my night tables are so high they're embarrassing. Right now I'm in the middle of Jane Gardam's Old Filth, about a retired judge who moves back to England after a long career in Hong Kong, only to find that he's living next door to a deeply loathed former colleague. This is one of those novels that manage to be funny, witty, and sad all at once. Its passages about the hero's childhood in Malaysia (and the British Raj) are rendered with wonderful precision--the author tells us a lot with very few words. By the end of the first page of Old Filth I was making a mental note to read all her other books.

I'm also right at the end of William Golding's The Double Tongue. This is an odd, cerebral novel, and definitely not for readers who want action-packed page-turners. However, its subject, a woman who becomes the oracle at Delphi rather unwillingly, is fascinating to me; I've written two young adult novels based on Greek myth and both include prophecy. Also, I'm happy to read any good writer's work about ancient Greece, however dry, and I truly enjoyed the heroine's acerbic observations about behind-the-scenes Delphi, the place of women in her society, and Greece on the verge of Roman rule.

I'm also enjoying Modern Dahlia Culture by W.H. Waite, written in 1928, a book given me by a friend. A small, short book full of wonderful photos (my favorite is one of the author standing next to a bed of dahlias that tower over him), it's telling me almost as much about dahlias as I want to know.

Finally, I'm working my way through two translations of The Iliad, the Fitzgerald and the Lattimore, because I've been told that each one is the best.
Read more about Alex the Parrot, and visit Stephanie Spinner's Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue