Friday, February 21, 2014

Michelle Wildgen

Michelle Wildgen is the author of the novels Bread and Butter, You’re Not You, and But Not For Long. The film adaptation of You’re Not You, a New York Times’ Editor’s Choice and one of People Magazine’s Top Ten Books of 2006, stars Hilary Swank and Emmy Rossum. Wildgen’s work includes fiction, essays, reviews, and food writing. She is a freelance writer, editor, and teacher, and an executive editor at the literary magazine Tin House. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Recently I asked Wildgen about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m prepping for a food writing class I’ll teach in a couple of months, which means I’m reading a lot of delicious stuff like Jeffrey Steingarten’s The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate. Steingarten is one of my great favorites for his incredible erudition, laugh-out-loud wit, and wide range of interests. He’s witnessed pig slaughters in France, immersed himself (almost literally, one suspects) in choucroute garnie in Alsace, and tortured a series of assistants with a never-ending series of exacting cooking experiments.

I’ll tell you what food books I’m not reading, though, and wish I were: Wasn’t Ruth Reichl scheduled to write a memoir about her time at the helm of Gourmet? I’ve been waiting for that with bated breath and hadn’t heard a word about it in years, so I asked on Twitter and discovered she has a contract for the memoir but has been sidetracked by novels and plans to write it next year. So I am holding on another year or two.

I’m also re-reading Lev Grossman’s The Magician King in anticipation of his third installment later this year—I like to convince myself that in order to appreciate a series I’m required to reread the others each time a new one appears. Really, I just love rereading books and this belief makes me feel I am accomplishing something instead of indulging myself. But I am, because one of my sharpest childhood memories is the creeping sensation of pure let-down that accompanied the realization that I would never learn to fly, be invisible, or see a leprechaun or fairy. As an adult I’ve reconciled myself to this, but at 6 or 7? Man, it stung.
Visit Michelle Wildgen's website.

The Page 99 Test: You’re Not You.

The Page 69 Test: But Not for Long.

The Page 69 Test: Bread and Butter.

--Marshal Zeringue