Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Nabokov’


This week’s “3 Questions” features Melanie Finn, author of The Underneath. This novel follows a journalist struggling with the constraints of motherhood. In an effort to disconnect from work and save her marriage, she rents a quaint Vermont farmhouse for the summer. The discovery of a mysterious crawlspace in the rental with unsettling writing etched into the wall, unfolds a plot exploring violence and family.

Ms. Finn‘s previous work has been met with critical acclaim. Her first novel, Away From You was published to international accolades. Her second novel, The Gloaming, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2016,  a finalist for the Vermont Book Award, and The Guardian‘s “Not the Booker” Prize. After living in Kenya, Connecticut, New York, and Tanzania, Ms. Finn currently lives in Vermont with her husband Matt (a wildlife film maker), their twin daughters, three Tanzanian mutts, and two very old horses.


Ms. Finn will appear at the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 16thThis event is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited. Please call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save a seat and/or secure your autographed copy of The Underneath. The novel goes on sale on May 15th, so you will be among the first to read it.



1.What three books have helped shape you into the writer you are today, and why?

Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines, because of his lean prose and because, when I was 21, he told me in a dream that I should become a writer (seriously!); The Power and The Glory by Graham Greene because of the torpid physical and emotional atmosphere Greene creates, and his deeply flawed characters; Beatrix Potter’s books, because she’s not afraid to use long words when speaking to children, because of her humor, because her characters are true to themselves, they’re completely authentic.


2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Bruce Chatwin remains my major literary crush; he died in 1989 but I still dream of going for a long hike in obscure mountains with him – maybe Tibesti in southern Libya. He was interested is everything, anything – his books were so diverse in subject matter: he was an art expert, he walked through the Australian desert, he wrote about two brothers living on a remote farm in Wales and a slave trader in west Africa. There are many others – Margaret Atwood, Jane Smiley, Joan Didion, Willa Cather, Vladimir Nabokov, Ezra Pound, Philip Larkin, Graham Greene, Naguib Mahfouz – but, ooo, I’d be too scared of them. I mean, what do you say to Nabokov?


3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

Leni Zumas’ Red Clocks, Samantha Hunt’s The Dark Dark, and Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees.

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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to help people better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “Three Questions”.  In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. Their responses are posted on The Book Jam the week prior to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these very special author events.

We’re thrilled to welcome our second author – Jack Beatty to our new series “Three Questions”.

Mr. Beatty is scheduled to appear at the Norwich Bookstore on Wednesday, February 15  at 7:00pm. He will be discussing his latest book, Lost History of 1914: Reconsidering the Year the Great War Began, in which he argues that World War I was not as inevitable as many historians have asserted. For more information about the bookstore, upcoming speaker engagements or to reserve a seat, simply click on the following link for The Norwich Bookstore. Hurry, though, as seats for this event are filling quickly!

But first, a quick bio.  Jack Beatty is a senior editor of the Atlantic Magazine which he joined in 1983 and is also a news analyst for the NPR program  “On Point”.  He won an American Book Award for The Rascal King, his biography of Boston mayor James Michael Curley and edited Colossus, a prize-winning book on corporations.  He has also worked as a book reviewer for Newsweek and was the literary editor of The New Republic. And now, without further ado, Mr. Beatty.

1.       What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?

As a teenager I read William L. Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which introduced me to the question of the 20th century:  How could this–Hitler, the war, above all the Holocaust–have happened?  As a young man, I was enthralled by Barbara Tuchman’s portrait of the world on the eve of WWI, The Proud Tower.  Some critics objected that the book read like a collection of essays since it dealt with multiple countries and issues.  I valued the richness and variety, and have used The Proud Tower as a template for The Lost History of 1914.  Michael Harrington, the democratic socialist: His books–The Other America: Poverty in the United States, The Accidental Century–helped me connect the Catholicism I was born into with the political values I adopted as an adult.

2. What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

The author I’d like to have a cup of coffee with? Vladimir Nabokov.  His verbal wit would make it a memorable occasion. After he finished a class at Northwestern, a nun sitting in the back of the room approached him. “Professor Nabokov,” she said, ” you have got to do something. Throughout your lecture the couple in front of me were…spooning.” ” Sister,” he came back, “you should be glad they weren’t forking.”

3. What books are currently on your bedside table?

A Fraternity of Arms: America and France in the Great War by Robert B. Bruce;  Continental Divide: The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada by Seymour Martin Lipset; A Government Out of Sight: The Mystery of National Authority in 19th Century America by Brian Balogh.

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