Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sara Solovitch

Sara Solovitch is a journalist, a mother, a gardener, a voracious reader, a hiker, and a really good cook. She's also a classical pianist, which is what led her to write Playing Scared: A History and Memoir of Stage Fright. The memoir chronicles her yearlong journey to understand and overcome a lifetime of performance anxiety, beginning with a childhood full of disastrous performances and ending with an hour-long concert the day before her 60th birthday.

Recently I asked Solovitch about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m in the middle of Francine Prose’s novel, Bigfoot Dreams. Like all her books, it’s sharp-elbowed and wickedly funny. Prose has a way of commenting on the culture that makes you look at things in a whole new light. In this book, she tells the story of a smart and cynical reporter whose job it is to make up stories for her sleazy tabloid newspaper. One day, she makes up a story that turns out to be true – truer than she ever could have imagined. And that’s the story that ruins everybody’s life. This is a book about a midlife crisis in which every life choice is questioned. It makes you squirm and laugh.

I recently finished the second volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle. Sometimes boring, sometimes compelling, it was always un-put-downable. It’s like making a new friend and feeling this great camaraderie because you not only like the same books and music; you eat the same food, you both bite your fingernails, and you keep saying “Me too” whenever they admit something about their life. I’ll keep returning to his books for their no-holds-barred honesty. His voice grabs me by the throat and doesn’t let go until, after nearly 600 pages, he’s finally done.

I’ve just started reading Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, by Orlando Figes, an amazing writer of Russian and Soviet history. His book, The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia, was one of my all-time favorite books. It recreated the terror and repression of life under Stalin with descriptions of nine people living in a single room, accounts of 116,885 Party members executed or imprisoned in a single year – it was all revelatory. And the Russians loved Stalin so completely that many of them couldn’t conceive that the abuses could be blamed on him. Many of them actually wrote to him, sure that he didn’t know what was happening, appealing to him for help like some loving father. It was beyond poignant! I suspect that Natasha’s Dance will be equally fascinating.
Visit Sara Solovitch's website.

My Book, The Movie: Playing Scared.

--Marshal Zeringue