25 Women to Read Before You Die

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Powell's Q&A

Kate Christensen

Describe your latest project.
Kate Christensen The Great Man is not really about a Great Man. The title is ironic and deliberately misleading. It's a novel about four women in their seventies and eighties, and aging, ambition, love, loyalty, food, and death. It's also a romantic comedy.

  1. The Great Man
    $8.50 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    The Great Man

    Kate Christensen

  2. The Epicure
    $15.00 New Trade Paper add to wishlist

    The Epicure's Lament

    Kate Christensen

  3. In the Drink
    $4.50 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

    In the Drink

    Kate Christensen

  4. Jeremy Thrane
    $3.50 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

    Jeremy Thrane

    Kate Christensen

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
From Dorothy Parker: "What fresh hell is this?"

What makes your favorite pair of shoes better than the rest?
Every morning when it's time to walk the dog, as well as every evening when it's time to go out, I find myself sliding my feet into a year-old pair of dark red Dansko clogs, clumpy, scuffed but diabolically comfortable things my more sexily-shod friend calls my "nurse shoes." I own plenty of lovely shoes and stylish boots, but I have to force myself to wear them. Obviously, I'm a creature of comfortable habit rather than dashing variety.

What is your astrological sign? If you don't like what you were born with, to what sign would you change and why?
Like all the other Leos I know, I wouldn't be anything else. We're the kings and queens of the zodiac, and our reign is benevolent but autocratic, generous but absolute, warm and loyal yet fearsomely demanding. We love to glow and shine and be the center of attention, which we contrive to do even in clumpy red Dansko clogs.

Describe the best breakfast of your life.
One brutally hot summer morning in Portland, Oregon, when I was twenty-two or -three, I woke up hungover and lovelorn, my head in a sticky fog. I stood in my underwear in the cool air of the open refrigerator door, eating scoops of leftover cold, savory, velvety, olive-oily ratatouille on a piece of hot whole-wheat toast. Then I made another piece of toast and finished the ratatouille like that, bite by bite. By the end, my hangover was gone and my heartache had abated, at least temporarily, and I felt young and alive, at least temporarily.

What is your idea of absolute happiness?
Striking a balance between yearning and pleasure, utterly free of regret.

What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
All the fresh raw East Coast oysters I want, washed down with all the champagne (or prosecco or cava) I want, all night long.

Why do you write?
To scratch an itch that can't be scratched any other way.

Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five books I would offer an aspiring satirical novelist in her twenties:

The Diaries of Dawn Powell — An honest, funny, realistic, beautiful, blow-by-blow depiction of a novelist's life that lets you know what to expect... roughly equal parts despair and elation, idleness and hard work, solitude and company, disappointment and reward.

Middlemarch by George Eliot — You'll probably never write anything this great, but you should really try to, anyway.

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano — A hilarious, inventive novel that breaks rules you've never even thought of and makes up some excellent new ones.

Trickster Makes This World by Lewis Hyde — An entertaining, in-depth look at the intertwined relationship between mischief and creativity that gives you permission to blow it all out of the water.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich — Junk food and Spandex in Jersey, hooray! Read the rest of the series, too. spacer

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