Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Writers (Alive or Dead!) I'd Die to Meet + One.

Top Ten Tuesday is the weekly meme hosted by the book obsessed gals at THE BROKE AND THE BOOKISH. (We're ALL book obsessed.) Every week, a new topic. This week it's the Top Ten Authors (Alive or Dead) One Would Die to Meet. (I paraphrase.) Once you read mine, be sure and check The B & the B, for other Top Ten Lists by the equally book obsessed participating bloggers.

Well, I don't know about 'dying', but I guess if I were going to meet a long dead author, that's the way to do it. Presupposing we're all sharing the same after-life. Ha!

But maybe it's by way of a Mr. Peabody's Way-Back Machine. In which case I get to meet a long dead author and stay alive.

I prefer The Way-Back.


The Top Ten Authors ( + One) I'd Die To Meet - more or less.

1) William Shakespeare

Well, duh!

2) Jane Austen

Double duh!

3) Charles Dickens

Triple duh!

Now we can get more reasonably down to earth. In no particular order, as usual:

4) Doris Kearns Goodwin

Because she is a great conversationalist and has dozens and dozens of interesting historical tales to tell - all of them true. I love when she rattles on. I'm a good listener. She wrote about FDR and Lincoln and knew LBJ. Plus growing up she was as rabid a Brooklyn Dodger fan as I was.

5) Rex Stout

I have a feeling he was kind of a grumpy guy, but hopefully he'd be on his best behavior and he would tell me all the stuff behind the scenes at Chez Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. (He was good friends with Lena Horne and her hubby, so he couldn't have been too grumpy.) Maybe we'd go sailing on his  boat. (I read somewhere he had a spiffy sailboat, but I can't confirm it.)

6) Roy Jenkins

Winston Churchill's biographer. I saw him once on Charlie Rose and boy would I love to meet him and just sit and listen to his stories. He said that Churchill was the 'finest human being to ever grace Downing Street.'  I want to hear more like that. I wouldn't want to meet Churchill who was an author in his own right. I'd be too damned intimidated.

7)  M.M. Kaye

Because I've read that she had a marvelous life (I'm planning on reading her very highly recommended autobiography this year) and she'd travelled all over the world AND she wrote some damn fine mysteries and some damn fine romantic adventures including, THE FAR PAVILIONS.

8) Naomi Novik

Because she writes the most incredible fantasy series featuring Captain Will Laurence and the dragon, Temeraire - one of my favorite characters in fiction. The books are set in real time during the Napoleonic Wars. Peter Jackson has optioned them and hopefully there will be a movie sometime down the line. In the meantime, the books are splendid enough.

9) China Mieville

Because he is adorable, sexy and weird all at the same time. Nah. It's because I've loved two  of his books (THE CITY AND THE CITY and KRAKEN) and I think he would be a fascinating conversationalist. Really. Actually, his style of writing is often referred to as 'the new weird'.

10) Barbara Peters (aka Barbara Mertz)

Because she writes the fabulous Amelia Peabody books AND she's an Egyptologist and an Archaeologist who has sailed up and down the Nile. I can only imagine the stories she has to tell.

11) Had to add one more: Jasper Fforde

Because he writes the ingenious Thursday Next books, the clever Nursery Crimes series and last year's artfully imaginative SHADES OF GREY. He has one of the most inventive literary minds I think I've ever been exposed to and lived to tell about. And how often do you meet a man whose last name begins with a double F? Now if only the Goliath Corporation would allow us to meet, all would be well.


Note: I've been fortunate enough to have met a few authors over the years, even better I didn't have to die to do so. Most of them lived up to my expectations - especially two of my very favorites: Robert Crais and Lee Child. I can say no more. Ha!


  1. We could travel together to go talk to Jane....that's the only match between our lists.

    You only want to go see Shakespeare to make sure he really is Shakespeare and not Bacon or Marlowe or somebody. :-) Just think what a scoop you'd have for the literary world!

  2. Fun post, as usual! May I add the Bronte sisters and Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy (I'll be she was a hoot to talk to, so "veddy, veddy English"). And I completely agree with M. M Kaye and Elizabeth Peters choices....I KNOW Elizabeth Peters was fall down funny and full of great stories!

  3. Bev: Maybe. Maybe not. :) No, I really want to meet him to be able to say I was in the same room with the greatest literary genius who ever lived.

    I've met one or two geniuses in my day, but not anyone on par with old Will.

    I know it would be hard to understand the English they spoke back then, but I'd do my damndest.

    Peters actually used to do escourted cruises down the Nile. Don't know if she still does, though. She must be getting on in years. I know someone who went on one and boy, it sounds like the ultimate trip of a lifetime. :)

  4. Joanne: I left the Brontes off my list because I can only imagine them as being very VERY gloomy people. Ha!

    No, on an expanded list I'd include Charlotte. And possibly Victoria Holt, after all she was one of the early Queens of the Gothic Romance.

    I also would have included Ngaio Marsh and Agatha Christie on an expanded list.

  5. I'm imagining the conversation you would have with these folks...very thoughtful, very clever....Yes, an excellent list!

  6. Here's today's list: it probably would be somewhat different tomorrow.

    Jane Austen

    Walter van Tilburg Clark


    Edith Wharton

    JRR Tolkien

    Joseph Wood Krutch

    Loren Eiseley

    PD James

    George Orwell

    Herman Melville

  7. Rex Stout has been a big hit here recently at Chez Monkey -- both Katie-Bar-The-Door have become fans since you mentioned Nero Wolfe's house a few weeks ago as one of your favorite settings. Great stuff.

  8. Deb: I'd be hoping these would be the types of people who'd you just give a lead to and then sit back and listen. :)

  9. Fred: Great list. But, but don't you think that Melville might be a little too 'woe is me' for great conversation? Maybe not. At any rate it would be fun to let him know how highly his books are currently held in esteem. How history proved him right.

    Walter van Tilburg Clark. A name I haven't heard in years. I believe I read his books when I was in high school. Can't honestly remember. But I do remember the name and that I was once a fan.

    Maybe I could be again.

  10. Mythical Monkey: I am happy to hear that Stout has new fans because of something I wrote. Wow. Great news. So glad he's become a favorite. :)

    "It's not all been in vain for nuthin'", as a certain squeaky voiced actress said (more or less) in SINGING IN THE RAIN.


  11. Wow! A great topic. Without too much pondering, I'd like to meet:

    Donna Leon
    Sara Paretsky (I've read her website and summaries of events with her, just my kind of person)
    Fred Vargas
    Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
    Toni Morrison
    Dashiell Hammett
    John Steinbeck
    Arnaldur Indridason
    Henning Mankell
    Stieg Larsson
    Andrea Camilleri
    Andrea Levy
    Zadie Smith
    Jane Austen
    Rex Stout
    Barbara Kingsolver
    Amy Tan
    Alice Walker
    Marge Piercy
    Margaret Atwood
    L.R. (Lorelei Rose) Wright
    Alice Walker
    Marcia Muller
    Wilkie Collins

  12. Yvette,

    You might be right about Melville, but I'd like to sit down and surround a brew or two with him anyway. His novels and short stories are all so different.

    Walter van Tilburg Clark

    _The Ox-bow Incident_
    This is probably the one you read.
    (a not too shabby film was made of this, with Henry Fonda)

    _City of Trembling Leaves_

    _The Track of the Cat_ (a film was made of this one also)

    _The Watchful Gods_ (coll of short stories)

    Because he wrote so few works (3 novels, maybe 15 short stories, and a limited number of poems), he will never get the recognition due him.

  13. I love lists like this. Seeing Roy Jenkins on there reminded me that I've yet to read his bio of Churchill. If you haven't read William Manchester's 2-volume bio of Churchill, I'd recommend it as well. One of the great disappointments of my reading life is that Manchester died before finishing the third volume.

    You've also inspired me to bone up on M.M. Kaye. I have the first volume of her autobio on the shelf and read it years ago. Just recently I looked at it and thought, "I should really re-read that and then read the other two volumes." It's these little coincidences, such as you mentioning Kaye and your intention of reading her memoirs, that remind me how much serendipity there is in the book blogging world.

  14. Good list, and I laughed at Kathy who could just rattle off such a long, impressive list.

    And I really enjoyed it in May when I went to my first crime festival and met a couple of favourite authors. They were such pleasant company - just like I´d expected.

  15. I'd have to agree with you on your *Duh* list. Authors with that kind of staying power have got to be interesting to talk to!

  16. Kathy: But the meme is to choose 10! + One in my case. :)

    Sure if I could list ad infinitum, I'd include a bunch like yours. Wilkie Colins, definitely.

    Not so many of those northern Europeans with their grim, taciturn outlooks on life. TOO depressing. HA!

  17. Fred: I vaugely remember reading THE CITY OF TREMBLING LEAVES and possibly THE OX-BOW INCIDENT which broke my heart. Well, the film did, so I'm assuming the book did as well.

    I need to jog my memory. Maybe I can fit in one of his books this year sometime. Couldn't hurt. :)

  18. Carol: It's all about serendipity, I think. It happens all the time. You think of an author or a book or a movie and before you know it, someone else is mentioning it as well and then off it goes...!

    Yes, I love that about the blogging world too. :)

    I've read the first in the Manchester bio of Churchill. Incredible. I've got the Jenkins bio here and been meaning to read that as well. Also his bio of GLADSTONE. The problem is that non-fiction takes a large chunk of my time normally, so I have to schedule and I also have to be in the mood.

  19. Dorte: It's amazinging, isn't it - how mystery/thriller writers can often be so charming and full of fun. It's a mystery. Ha!

  20. Trish: I was surprised that Shakespeare didn't appear on every list.

    I mean, he was/is numero uno.

    I always say, Shakespeare knew everything.

    He did.

  21. Enthusiasm takes over with lists. It always wins out.

    This is unless I write down names and then sit and ponder which authors I like more than others and spend time really evaluating everyone.

    Just too many good authors, mystery and non-mystery, what's called "literary fiction," but I consider lots of mysteries in that category.

  22. Yvette,

    You've read _The City of Trembling Leaves_? I thought I was the only live person in the world who had read it. Every couple of years I get the itch and pull all of his stuff off the shelf and do it again. I think maybe its time again.

    I wish I could win the lottery for I then would be able to purchase the collection of his poetry that came out decades ago. Prices now range from $88 to $500+.

  23. Good for you for adding an extra choice this week. I can't think of a more interesting conversation than chatting about the BookWorld with Jasper Fforde!

  24. Kathy: Well, any kind of list is fun to work on - anything having to do with books or authors or films - that sort of thing.

    And as usual, any list has to remain flexible. On any given day authors and titles are subject to whim. :)

  25. Fred: I would not re-read THE OX-BOW INCIDENT, too upsetting. But you've got me thinking of re-reading CITY OF TREMBLING LEAVES. Honestly I can't remember much about it though my memory is filled with the idea that I DID read it once upon a time.

    I'm going to check and see.

    That title is speaking to me. :)

    Book collecting is a pricey hobby that's for sure.

  26. Two Bibliomaniacs: The real surprise is that I was able to hold the list to JUST eleven. Ha!

    Jasper would be a hoot.

  27. I would have to go with (all dead ones, no live ones though there are a few I would die to meet)

    Agatha Christie
    Shirley Jackson
    JRR Tolkien
    Robert Jordan
    Frank Herbert
    Robert Burns
    Jules Verne
    Mark Twain
    Erle Stanley Gardner
    Mary Roberts Rinehart
    Charles Dickens

  28. Several of these would go on my expanded list for sure, Ryan. I debated about adding Agatha but thought she'd be too shy to talk much about her books. Oh, Jules Verne - definitely.

  29. It sure is interesting how varied are people's reading tastes. It always fascinates me.

    And, as you say, no two people read the same book.

    And no two people like exactly the same authors. There is always individual reading preference as in all forms of art.

    Me, I'm celebrating my birthday -- and it's a milestone year -- by eating chocolate cake and reading the Lovesey book, although denying myself The Mother Hunt, which I'm saving, but that is getting too hard.

  30. Well, then HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Kathy. Always a good excuse for chocolate cake! The best excuse! :)

  31. Goodness! I've never seen a pic of China Mieville before. I have yet to pick up one of his books but I've wanted to for a while now. Clearly I need an edition with a pic of the author on it!

  32. This is so hard to do! I could never pick a top 10.

    I had to chuckle at the "way back" machine ... fun memories!

  33. Lisa: I've really liked the two books of his I've read. And I promise I don't only read him because he's good looking. HA!


  34. Pat: Well, I like to think that these lists are entirely felixible from day to day. :) That's the only way I can narrow anything down.

  35. Oh, and reading about Make Way for Ducklings shook up the gray matter here and I thought of other childhood book favorites.

    They are:

    The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, by Dr. Seuss and beautifully illustrated
    Caps for Sale
    The Poky Little Puppy, which was my early childhood favorite, and apparently has sold millions of copies over the decades.

  36. All good ones, Kathy. My daughter has a copy of THE POKEY LITTLE PUPPY. And her copy of CAPS FOR SALE fell apart years ago. :)

  37. What a wonderful site you have here! It is so visually stunning! I have to come back when I have more time.
    Shakespeare and Jane made my list, too!

  38. Kate: Thanks! I'm glad you took a moment to drop by. I couldn't imagine a list WITHOUT Shakespeare or Jane. :)


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