What's your story, in three sentences?
I was born and raised in England, before the completion of a degree in foreign languages enabled me to escape. After stints teaching English in France, Germany and Japan, I eventually ended up in Australia, where I now live with my wife and my two young daughters. I still have no real idea how I landed here...
Five favo(u)rite books?
That's a horrible, nasty question to ask someone at this time of the morning... Let's see - I might cheat a little (a lot) here.
Anthony Trollope's The Barchester Chronicles
Haruki Murakami's The Rat Trilogy novels (all four of them...)
Steven Carroll's Glenroy trilogy (The Art of the Engine Driver, The Gift of Speed and The Time We Have Taken)
Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks
...and, and, and... the collected Victorian/Russian/German/Japanese classic literature compendium. If it existed.
Are there any genres you refuse to read?
It's not so much that I refuse to read genres, more that I have so much to read within a few favourite niches that I am loath to venture outside my wonderfully snug rut. Having said that, I very much doubt that either vampires or werewolves will feature in any of my reviews in the near future (and by near future, I mean until hell freezes over, and Lucifer himself stars in Twilight on Ice).
Do you have any hidden (or not-so-hidden) superpowers?
I have the ability to spend days writing a highly-polished, thousand-word review of an obscure foreign-language book which nobody has ever heard of and then bitch and whine because I haven't got any comments on it. Is that a superpower?
If you could invite any literary characters to a dinner party, who would you invite, and what would be the party theme?
For one, the witch from Hansel and Gretel because she could obviously cook (and I can't). The whole Pickwick club from Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, both for their obvious ability to enjoy life and to make me look relatively slim. Harry Potter, obviously (free entertainment - I've heard he does some fancy things with rabbits and doves). Oh, and Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye - so that the rest of us could give him something to really complain about...
You're trapped on a desert island. Which books do you NOT want with you?
The Catcher in the Rye (see above), anything by Henry James (although a few years on a desert island might give me the chance to finish off one of his sentences), any books which mention the words sand, thirst and certain death on a regular basis, and anything written in a language which I don't understand...
Give me your best: one book I must read, one book blog I must visit, and one thing I should never say to strangers.
One book you must read: Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood - the words poignant, nostalgic and heart-rending were made for this novel.
One book blog you must visit: I suppose I can't say mine? Oh, alright, how about Tanabata's In Spring It Is The Dawn - a feast for Japanophiles everywhere.
One thing you should never say to strangers: Do you want to come back to my place? I could show you the new features on my blog...
Thank you, Tony, for putting up with my silly questions and offering witty and wise responses. If you’d like to see how I answered Tony’s questions, follow this link.
Would you like to read Murakami’s Norwegian Wood? I know Tony convinced me to give it a try. I’ll give away a copy to one person who fills out this FORM. Giveaway open internationally, will end 9/16 at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be chosen randomly and notified via email. Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week!