How about another literary meme? If I’ve done this one before, I’ve forgotten it.  Besides, answers are bound to change as time goes on.

Which book or books are you reading now?

Currently it’s Bruce Catton’s Grant Moves South and the last book of Anthony Powell’s A Dance To The Music of Time.  The former I’ve read before several times.  The latter is an undiscovered country.

•What is your favourite time to read?

I read on the metro and for about two hours after dinner.  These are not necessarily my favorite times, just the ones available.

•And your favourite place?

The comfy chair in my library. This arrangement is quite deliberate.  I could do without the cat who always crawls into my lap, though.

•Who is your favourite novelist?

Has to be Evelyn Waugh, although I am also quite fond of Robert Graves’ historickal novels and Patrick O’Brian, whose Aubrey/Maturin series comes mighty close to gen-u-ine literature.

•You favourite poem?

I’m not overly fond of poetry and don’t read much of it.  Not because I don’t see its merits, but just because they don’t interest me that much.  If I had to pick some favorite poets, I would go with Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Coleridge and, um, Kipling.

•What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

Robert Calasso’s The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony.  Not only was it dense, it was complete bunkum as well.  I quit after not all that many pages.

On the other hand, I love C.S. Lewis.  His works, too, are extremely difficult, but it is a cleansing difficulty, one with a reward at the end that makes the struggle all the more worthwhile.  My basic trouble with Lewis is that so long as I am reading him, I can more or less follow along with his arguments.  But when I try to repeat such arguments to others?  Well, I sound like one of Jerry’s Kids on a specially bad day.

•What was the first book you remember reading?

I don’t know if they even use them anymore, but I still vaguely recollect reading the old “Dick and Jane” sort of thing back in kindergarten.  By the time I was in second grade, I was buying books by job lot from Scholastic Publishers and don’t remember which was the first I read.

•Do you have a comfort book that you re-read?

Why do you suppose God put Plum Wodehouse on this earth?  I also imitate Queen Victoria, whose favorite train reading, apparently, was E. OE. Somerville and Martin Ross’s collection of Irish R.M. stories.

•What is the most erotic book you’ve read?

I can’t remember the circs, but at some time in the past I’ve dipped into Anaïs Nin (and who hasn’t? Ha, ha).  Also, like every randy teenaged boy, at one point I knew all the hot scenes in Portnoy’s Complaint.  Now vee may perhaps to begin. Yes?

•Which classic should you have read?

War and Peace.  I know, I know.

•Which book did you never want to end?

I think it’s the mark of any good book that while one wants the story lines to resolve, at the same time one doesn’t.

•What is your most overrated book?

Thoreau’s Walden.  Why would anyone ever have taken that sanctimonious beatnik seriously?

•Which character could you have an affair with?

Virginia Troy from Waugh’s Sword of Honor trilogy.  She would have been a sparkling dinner companion and a jolly good roll in the hay, without all the snakes-in-the-head complications of other literary bad girls.

•Who is your favourite character?

A difficult call, and it depends on the criteria.  Hero? Villain? Comic relief?  I think, perhaps, that this deserves its own sub-meme.  However, if I have to choose a character who I like the most, I would go with Guy Crouchback, again from Waugh’s Sword of Honor.

•Which character do you most dislike?

Since I seem to be sticking with Waugh, I’ll say Brenda Last from A Handful of Dust.  Somebody in my blog circle compared her once to Pamela Widmerpool, but I really don’t think there’s much between them.  With Pam, there’s no delusion: If you’re a masochist, you’ll be into her.  If not, you can run, not walk to the nearest exit.  But it’s all right out there on the surface.  Caveat emptor.  Brenda is a different kettle of stinky fish, hoodwinking poor old Tony Last and eventually driving him to an undeserved hell in a manner quite beyond his comprehension.

•Which character do you identify with most?

Ah.  Well, perhaps one of the reasons that I like Waugh so much is that I feel a certain affinity with his anti-heroes: Paul Pennifeather, John Boot, Tony Last and Guy Crouchback.  They are all solid, decent chaps caught up in the absurdist whirlwind of the world around them and spun violently about.  Fortunately, most of them land back on their feet.

•Which book changed your life?

Well, he said dodging in expectation of heaved tomatoes, I would think any book worth reading changes one’s life to some extent.  On the other hand, I honestly cannot say that I have read any particular book and said, “Whoa, this changes my fundamental direction!” on any given subject.  I have tried to be very careful in charting my life course and establishing what I believe to be the correct fundamental values.  Perhaps it is because of this caution that I am not susceptable to one-off shots that might otherwise radically alter my outlook on things.   If you want to fundamentally alter my life, you need to send batallions, not single spies.