As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to help independent booksellers, The Book Jam has paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “3 Questions”. In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. (We have a rotating list of six possible questions to ask just to keep things interesting.) Their responses are posted on The Book Jam during the days leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work, will encourage readers to attend these special author events, and ultimately, will inspire some great reading.
This 3 Questions features Victoria Shorr and her book Backlands. Ms. Shorr is a writer and political activist who lived in Brazil for 10 years. Currently, she lives in Los Angeles, where she cofounded the Archer School for Girls, and is now working to found a college-prep school for girls on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Backlands is based on the true story of Lampiao, Brazil’s most notorious bandit, who ruled over a group of nomadic outlaws in northeastern Brazil. Taking from the rich, admired and feared by the poor, the bandits roamed and ruled from 1922 to 1938. The novel unfolds from the viewpoint of Maria Bonita, a woman stuck in a loveless marriage until she met Lampiao, and rode off with him to become the “Queen of the Bandits”. (Photo by Dan Deitch.)
Ms. Shorr will be visiting the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on Wednesday, July 22nd to discuss Backlands. This event is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited. Call 802-649-1114 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to save your seat.
1) What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?
I would say the three that come to mind are The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald, Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann and “The Fall River Axe Murders,” a story by Angela Carter. They all take a historic event and then re-imagine it intensely, so that rather than reading a series of facts, you are actually there, living the history. It was reading these retellings that made me realize that I could tell my story–which is a true one–better if I crossed that line into fiction.
2) What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?
Virginia Woolf said she would be afraid to find herself alone in a room with Jane Austen, but I would love it–especially if Virginia Woolf stayed as well! I felt I got to know them both quite well, recently rereading their work, and in fact, writing a piece about Jane Austen’s having turned down the one very good proposal of marriage that she got, I would like very much to hear her out about that. This took what Isak Dinesen calls “courage de luxe” [maybe she could join us!]–though it would have to be tea, of course, not coffee.
3) What books are currently on your bedside table?
I am on a Coleridge bender, having started with Alathea Hayter’s Voyage in Vain (out of print), and then moved into Richard Holmes‘s two volume biography. Also Sybille Bedford’s Legacy, John Lahr’s Mad Pilgrimmage of the Flesh, which my husband and I fight over, and Michael Lewis’s Liars’ Poker, which my sons say will explain it all to me.