Thursday, April 26, 2012

Anthony McCarten, in Auckland next month for AWRF, answers the questions

 Anthony McCarten is back home for the May ‘Auckland Writers& Readers Festival’. 
Sarah Daniell posed 20 questions to him, 12 of which made the cut for her popular New Zealand Herald back page weekly feature profiling interesting Kiwis.  Here are the full 20 questions. We thought the eight that got away were too good to waste.

1. What single word best describes you?     Pellucid

2. What word or phrase do you over-use?    Excuse me for thinking...

3. What literary hero do you most identify with? When Franz Kafka eventually died in the arms of his girlfriend, Dora, he had published, in his lifetime, fewer than 450 pages. Kafka studies now proliferate at a rate inversely proportional to that of Kafka’s own production: according to a recent estimate, a new book on his work has been published every 10 days for the past 14 years. Max Brod, his executor and himself a celebrated writer in his day, in his 84 years on this planet, published 83 books, and almost every last one of them is long out of print.  I'd like to be Kafka, but fear I'll be Brod. 

4. Can you describe your writing ritual - anything peculiar we should know about?   A steaming cup of tea must always be somewhere nearby. 

5. Last order, before you slip off this mortal coil?   A Morphine Martini, dirty.

6. What vices do you have?  The only Commandment I seem able to keep perfectly is the one about killing people.

7. What is the most humbling job you've ever had?   Cleaner in an adult cinema. 

8. What do you like least about New Zealand?    Its pride in its anti-intellectualism. The "rugged individual" thing is a bit of a bore. 

9. What do you like least about living in Britain?    The rain, cold and the ceaseless grey skies -  I'm talking about the summers.

10. Where is the most interesting place you've had sex?    Alone, or with someone else? 
11. Have you ever thrown a book across a room in disgust or disenchantment?   A novel by Sydney Sheldon. It was a snuff scene, the murderer seduced a woman then, during sex, throttled her.  Putrid writing, and an odious idea. Let's call the whole thing 'badly executed.'

12. What is your favourite opening sentence or paragraph in a book?  From memory (not even googling it):  "It was a soiled and slightly sleazy piece of paper-green crepe and it clung to her behind as she danced with the lingering sterility of an aging lover."  Something like that.    William Faulkner. 

13. What's so great about getting older?    A growing fearlessness

14. Do you ever lie? In what circumstance?   Yes, and in too many circumstances to list. The reason? Because the truth would do damage to someone innocent. 

15. Can you define happiness.    Having three things to look forward to.

16. What is your greatest retail folly or regret?   Not a big retailer, and regret is for the birds.

17. What quality can you not abide in others?   The presumption they are right.

18. In yourself?   Self-absorption.

19. What have you read lately that astonished and inspired you?   Arguably, by the late Christopher Hitchens. A great journalist and provocateur lost.

20. What would you like to say to your critics?   Come on, I'm not that bad.

The Bookman likes #'s 7 & 19 the best, and yes ok I admit it, I had to check my dictionary for the meaning of  pellucid.

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