Meet author of the Traverse City State Hospital series and Professor Emeritus of English, Rick VanDeWeghe this month as he answers some of our most popular author questions. You can find book 1 and 2 of his series, “Jimmy Quinn” and “Lucy Greene” on our shelves at Bay Books in our Local Authors section.
On your nightstand now: Fareed Zakaria, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World; Richard Haass, The World: A Brief Introduction; Scott Turow, The Last Trial; Herman Melville, Billy Budd.
Favorite book when you were a child: I did not grow up in a family of readers, but I do remember combing through the ten volumes of selected children’s classics in the one bookshelf in our home. There I read bits and pieces of prose and poetry, fantasy and adventure, fables and myths. I also read a lot of comic books.
Your top five authors: Charles Dickens, George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Walt Whitman, Atul Gawande, Mary Rose O’Reilley.
Book you’ve faked reading: I’ve never faked reading. I give a book 100 pages and if I don’t like it, I abandon it. Many times, however, I’ve returned to an abandoned book and gave it a second try, usually realizing how impatient I was the first time around.
Book you’re an evangelist for: Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself.” Not a book but a long poem found in his book of poems, Leaves of Grass.
Book you’ve bought for the cover: I can’t recall that I’ve ever done that for a front cover. But I have bought books for the summary and/or advance praise on the back cover. Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light would be one recent example.
Book you hid from your parents: I never had to hide books from my parents, but I successfully hid The Catcher in the Rye from the nuns at my high school.
Book that changed your life: William Stafford, Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer’s Vocation.
Favorite line from a book: “Do I contradict myself?/ Very well then I contradict myself,/I am large, I contain multitudes.” From “Song of Myself.”
Five books you’ll never part with: The Complete Works of Shakespeare; Complete Poetry and Selected Prose by Walt Whitman; John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman; Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face; Martha Kolln and Loretta Gray, Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects.
Book you most want to read again for the first time: Mary Rose O’Reilly, The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd.