Saturday, October 3, 2015

Michael Golding

Michael Golding’s first novel, Simple Prayers, was published in 1994 and has been translated into nine foreign languages. Benjamin’s Gift, his second novel, was published in 1999. He is also a screenwriter, whose works include the adaptation of Alessandro Baricco’s Silk. He lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas in Northern California.

Golding’s new novel is A Poet of the Invisible World.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Golding's reply:
At the moment I’m midway through Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, and its brilliant, rambling voice leaves me breathless. The story of a high school football hero, “Swede” Levov, whose life is shattered by the actions of his rebellious teenage daughter, it paints a vivid portrait of the clash between generations: the postwar children of the 1940s, whose lives glowed with promise, and the antiwar children of the 1960s, who turned the world upside down. Roth’s writing is like a speed train barreling through the night—you often fear the novel will jump the tracks and crash, but you hold on, exhilarated by the ride. It’s in the tradition of novels like The Great Gatsby in which the story is told through the eyes of a peripheral narrator—in this case, Roth’s alter ego Nathan Zuckerman—but the author manages to barge his way into the hearts and minds of nearly all of characters. The novel explodes with anger, wails with a deep sadness, and is rich in mid-century historical detail. I can go for days without wanting to pick it up. Its truths are painful. But once I pick it up, I find it hard to put it down.

I just finished a lovely novel called Claire Marvel by John Burnham Schwartz. John gave me a generous blurb for my new novel, so I thought I’d read one of his books that had slipped by me. Claire Marvel is exquisite. Written in beautiful, haunting prose, it captures the oddness and delicacy of falling in love, the maddening way two people can slip by each other, and how we sometimes make choices that lead to grave, unexpected results. It’s tender and wise and it touched me deeply.

I’ve also been reading a wonderful book called Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley. A meditation on the art of novel writing, it examines what a novel is and why we derive such pleasure from reading them. The first half of the book is devoted to questions of craft and historical context. The second half examines 100 novels Smiley challenged herself to read when she reached an impasse in her own work. It’s an autobiography of the author’s life as a reader, and an insightful—and playful—investigation into what fiction is all about.
Visit Michael Golding's website.

--Marshal Zeringue