What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
I’ve always loved T. S. Garp. I loved him from the start — from when he was in high school, that is, in his singlet in the dank, fungal stink of the gym’s wrestling pads. I loved his mother — her asexual candor, her lack of all pretense. I’d have married him, you know, even though we were both writers. And I’d have never slept with the “gradual” student. I don’t like earnest young men. I find any admiration they might have for me a sign of naïveté. Wait, it was the sitter. He sleeps with the sitter, right? Or am I confusing him with Cheever’s Weed in “The Country Husband”? I wouldn’t have liked the adultery. Mrs. Ralph. I’m recalling a Mrs. Ralph, somewhat naked. No, I wouldn’t have liked that at all. In our version, the children would have thrived — that’s the only way to have hope in my future with Garp. The only way at all.
Five Books for Bookish Book Clubs
I’m often asked for book club recommendations. This list includes my standard: Lee Smith’s Fair and Tender Ladies, as well as an overlooked classic, Stoner, which has nothing to do with smoking pot (apologies to the pot smokers), and a bestselling memoir by transgender writer Jennifer Finney Boylan, a great read that might entail some new terrain for certain readers, as well as a comedic and moving Gish Jen novel about the immigrant experience. And every book club should add an occasional collection of poems. Here I pop in Rachel Zucker.