A. Graduate student, assistant to literary agent, magazine writer and editor
A. Perhaps my first job, as an assistant to the agent Phyllis Westberg, at Harold Ober Associates, one of New York's oldest agencies. More recently, I edited a wonderful online magazine called Nextbook. I loved that job, too, as I was able to hire some of my favorite writers to contribute.
A. I don't think I can name just one. But if I had to choose, I suppose Elvis Costello. His work endures.
A. The Philadelphia Story. A light, delectable comedy that gets at the heart of the American class system.
A. I don't actually own a television, but I do watch certain shows on iTunes or DVD. Right now, like everyone else, I love Mad Men. And I'm an eternal fan of Freaks and Geeks, the Gilmore Girls (it's not what you think), and, yes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
A. Happy, busy, overly full, well-considered, sometimes chaotic.
A. I'm afraid I don't have one.
A. Lying on the couch, reading Middlemarch, eating a hard, green apple.
A. I have a terrible dread of snakes.
A. London, wandering around Bloomsbury or Neal's Yard. With plans to visit friends in Yorkshire the next day.
A. Mina Loy. Dawn Powell. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Sylvia Plath.
A. I'm afraid I don't quite think in those terms, so I can't really answer that question. I admire certain things about certain people.
A. Like. Quite. Maybe. Perhaps.
A. I wish that I'd spent more time with my paternal grandmother before she died. She was a brilliant, ferocious woman who had great stories to tell.
A. I'm not sure if this qualifies as a talent, but I hate that I don't speak any languages other than English. I'd love to learn French and Spanish, then Hebrew, Arabic, and Japanese.
A. My novel, A Fortunate Age. But I'm also quite pleased with a few poems I've written over the years. (And, well, do children qualify as an achievement? I have two beautiful ones.)
A. I'm afraid I have a pretty bad temper. I don't get anrgy all that often, but when I do -- agh.
A. I'm not quite sure. Patience, maybe.
A. Again, my mind doesn't really work that way. I'm happy being myself.
A. Physical trait? If so, well, the first thing people comment on is generally my hair, which is dark and curly.
A. This is too difficult. I love the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, in Sense and Sensibility, and Gwendolen Harleth from Daniel Deronda. Irene Heron from The Forsyte Saga. And, of course, Jane Eyre.
A. Soames Forsyte, from The Forsyte Saga. His villainy springs from his being so purely a product of his era and class. Poor Soames.
A. Again, my mind doesn't quite work in this early-Caryl-Churchill-Tom-Stoppard-play sort of way, so this is hard for me to answer. But I'd love to meet favorite writers--Austen, Dickens,Eliot--and talk to them about their lives, their writing, the intersection between the two.
A. I really hate the unnecessary use of quotation marks. As in, menus that offer "roast" chicken. Why, why?
A. I have an overhealthy interest in film, which I blame on my father, who took me to the movies twice a week, starting at about age three. Thus, I've always fantasized about actually making--writing and directing--films. But I'm not quite sure I have the personality necessary to navigate Hollywood.
A. Honesty. Humor. Introspection and intellectual rigor.
A. I'm sort of terrified by the idea eating just one food for the rest of my life.
A. Right at the moment, let's see: I Wanna Know Girls, Portastatic; Ghosts, Laura Marling; Stars and Sons, Broken Social Scene; Staring at the Sun, TV on the Radio; Flume, Bon Iver. But this pretty random. I could just as easily list Wilco, Elvis Costello, The Smiths, Elliott Smith, and dozens more.
A. Edith Wharton, Dawn Powell, George Eliot, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Sylvia Plath, Jonathan Franzen, Donna Tartt, Alison Lurie, Diane Johnson, David Mitchell, Martin Amis, Junichiro Tanizaki, Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy, Evelyn Waugh, Thomas Pynchon, E.M. Forster, Zadie Smith.
A. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen Daniel Deronda, George Eliot A Time to Be Born, Dawn Powell Howard's End, E.M. Forster
A. The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon. Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie. All of Jane Austen.
A. Just write.
A. Which character are you? (Answer: None.)