WORD on the street (NYC: Harlem-125th Street Metro-North Railroad Station)

Unknown, reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

 1. Why did you choose this book?

I did a bookswap with a friend I worked with, and my brother had recommended this one.

 2. What did you trade for it?

Her Fearful Symmetry (by Audrey Niffenegger).

3. What are your favorite books?

The Time Traveler’s Wife (also by Audrey Niffenegger), The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald), and Jodie Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper.

4. Do you judge books by their covers?

I try not to, I go off a recommendation, and sometimes I scan a bookstore.

5. What did you have for breakfast?

A pear, yogurt and cereal.

WORD on the street, Tuesday 4/27 (NYC: on the N between Broadway and Astoria/Ditmars)

Alan Sillitoe died on April 25, 2010 at Charing Cross Hospital in London. Two days later, we met Kayley reading The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

1. Why did you choose this book?

A friend and I had unearthed a battered copy at a used bookstore about 2 years ago, and were drawn to it not knowing much about Sillitoe’s work specifically, but more of the adapted film from the 1960s (with Tom Courtenay and Michael Redgrave. The title is also referenced by several bands, such as Belle & Sebastian on their Push Barman to Open Old Wounds album.)  I’ve always been intrigued by this voice of post-WW II blue-collar England, and Sillitoe was a major contributor in both books and film dealing with that subject matter, written during that time. I had been meaning to borrow it from my friend since then, but saw this Vintage edition while shopping a few weeks ago. And here we are. 

2. Do you like it?

I’ve just begun to focus on this book – I’ve only read the first two stories, but I’m really enjoying his style so far. For all of their outward irredeemable qualities, Sillitoe’s protagonists are these incredibly affected individuals searching for identity and purpose in a society that has already determined what their roles should be. He has this completely honest narrative that can be tongue-in-cheek one minute and absolutely devastating the next. I’m really looking forward to the rest of it. 

3. What are your favorite books?

Something around Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, John Updike’s Rabbit novels.

4. Do you judge books by their covers?

I try not to, but I think that a clever cover can have a real impact on why you purchase a book, especially if you aren’t familiar with the author and are initially drawn to the jacket design. If it’s done just right, I think cover art can even influence the way you perceive the story, or present a focus that you may not initially have considered. I love the cover art of this edition, by the way. 

5. What did you have for breakfast?

This book. With a coffee.

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