In which I’m working

on SECRET THINGS. Which is not the name of my new book but instead refers to things of which we must not yet speak. Cryptic enough for you, poodles? Anyway, I was poking around the archives and found this post about my various favorite things. I loathe being asked about my favorite anything because HEY, I’m a Gemini and we like to change our minds just because we can. But most of these are still among my beloveds. What about you?

Favorite author: I’m already stuck. If you mean whose books do I never tire of and will reach for as “comfort reading” in an airport bookstore when I’m tired and far from home and needing some soothing, Agatha Christie. If you mean, who do I admire for beautiful wordplay and general luminosity, Alice Hoffman. If you mean who represents the best of my Southern heritage, Harper Lee. And if you mean who do I admire above all for doing something that was rather new in her time but which transcends time and is always classically superb, Jane Austen. (Just realized, no boys on that list…)

*Favorite books: Oh, dear. I’m just going to pull some things off the shelf. Take the authors listed above as a given in this category as well and throw in Monica Dickens because I mentioned her a few days ago.
I Capture the Castle Dodie Smith
Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons
Shirley Jackson’s short stories
Dorothy Parker’s short stories
Chocolat Joanne Harris
anything Bronte
E. M. Delafield’s Provincial Lady series
stories of Sherlock Holmes
Sarah Caudwell’s mysteries
Mary Stewart’s Gothic novels
Lisa St. Aubin de Teran’s memoirs
Bill Bryson’s travel books
Lonesome Dove Larry McMurtry
almost anything published by Persephone Books
Rebecca Daphne du Maurier
The King Must Die Mary Renault


Favorite movies: There are several I keep stored on my tivo queue to watch over and over again if I’m in the mood–most of which I also have on DVD.
“Practical Magic”
“Bread and Tulips”
“Gosford Park”
“The Women”
the Thin Man movies
classic Hitchcock
“The Bad Seed”
“Sense and Sensibility”
and if I’m feeling in the mood for a little gratuitous violence, Guy Ritchie movies


Favorite Broadway plays: I don’t care for the big, splashy musicals unless someone dies–a prejudice of my husband’s that I happen to agree with. As for straight plays, I adore Arthur Miller. I used to teach “The Crucible”, and every time I taught it I found something new to appreciate. Tennessee Williams, Christopher Hampton, and Peter Schaeffer round out my favorites. I have a deep admiration for playwrights in general because I think what they do is more difficult than writing novels. (I can hear the howls of outrage, but plays are difficult in the same way that short stories are. They are simply bones and the bones must be perfect in order to make the whole thing work. Novels have flesh, and you can hide a lot of sins in the flesh.)


Favorite color: Blood red.


Favorite dish: A full combination plate of Tex-Mex.


Favorite place for escape: In my house, my study. It is very tiny and very pink and entirely my own. In the world, London.