6 questions we always ask: Alison McGhee, author

I have a confession. I have not yet read Alison McGhee. I know! She’s written a ton, everything from picture books to chapter books to young adult novels to grown up novels. I am ashamed. Back in January, I made this confession to some friends while attending a literary event. They gasped in horror and disbelief, and then my friend Karlyn ran over to her bookshelf to loan me a book by Alison. Sadly, Karlyn had already loaned her books to someone else. No matter, I’ve decided that when I remedy this gaping oversight I’m gonna start with the book that Alison mentions in question two. Anyway enough of literary transgressions, and onto some actual information. Alison’s going to be reading and signing books at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 14 at the Red Balloon Book Shop 891 Grand Ave. St. Paul, MN. Now, go read Alison’s answer to find out what book has zoomed to the top of my To Read List.

What book(s) are you currently reading?
I’m reading Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri’s new collection of short stories, and I’m also reading Up in the Old Hotel, by Joseph Mitchell, which is a collection of his writing (mostly nonfiction) from his New Yorker days. I dip into one, then I dip into the other, then I dip into a guilty pleasure magazine or two, and back and forth I go.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Who?
I will admit to you outright that I have an ongoing crush on a fictional character that I myself created: Tom Miller, from my novel All Rivers Flow to the Sea. Tom is my perfect man. Even though he’s a teenager. Yikes. Let’s put it this way: Tom Miller would have been my perfect man when I was a teenager if he were alive and had I been the sort of girl he would even have looked twice at, which I wasn’t. Although, being the perfect man, maybe he would have seen something in me that no one else, including me, did.

If your favorite author came to Minnesota, who would it be and what bar would you take him/her to?
I have a lot of favorite authors, so this is a tough one. Let me pick someone from the great beyond. How about the unknown poet, or group of poets, who wrote the Book of Job from the Bible. Where to take him/her/them out, let’s see. Who’s to say they wouldn’t enjoy a nice drink in a cool and comfy setting, especially given the seriousness and tragedy of that particular book? I’m going with the Kitty Kat Club. From personal experience, though, I advise you not to try ordering a mojito there. Stick with the basics.

What was your first favorite book?
Another tough question. When I was very little I loved the Frances books, by Russell and Lillian Hoban. When I could read on my own I dove headfirst into the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. A cliche, I know, but so be it.

Let’s say Fahrenheit 451 comes to life, which book would you become in order to save it from annihilation?
You are like the zombie master/mistress of difficult questions. This one is especially difficult because, geeze, Fahrenheit 451 has already come true in many ways, hasn’t it? Perhaps I would become not a book but a poem, and if I could be a poem, I will close my eyes and twirl around and point at one of my hundreds of favorites, and here I am: “St. Francis and the Sow,” by Galway Kinnell.

What is one book you haven’t read but want to read before you die?
Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne.

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