Author Revealed

About Joseph Kanon

Q. What is your birthdate?

A. 5/19

Q. Previous occupations

A. Editor/publisher/executive.

Q. Favorite job

A. Writing

Q. High school and/or college

A. High school: Nanticoke, Pa. College: Harvard and Trinity College, Cambridge.

Q. Name of your favorite composer or music artist?

A. Bach.

Q. Favorite movie

A. Casablanca-- isn't it everyone's?

Q. Favorite television show

A. The Sopranos

Revealing Questions

Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

A. Husband, father, writer. Loves: Robin, David, Michael, traveling.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?

A. From 'The Rules of the Game': what you must understand is that everyone has his reasons.

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?

A. Eating dinner outdoors in a piazza in Rome with my wife. (What makes this idea of perfection particularly appealing is that you can actually do it.)

Q. What’s your greatest fear?

A. Being gravely ill and dependent.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

A. Istanbul-- my new favorite city.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?

A. No one.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

A. My wife.

Q. What do you regret most?

A. That I have never written a movie. But who knows?

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

A. Speaking a foreign language fluently.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?

A. My two sons, David and Michael-- though I suspect I didn't really have much to do with the fine men they've become.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?

A. Out of the many? Impatience, I suppose.

Q. What’s your best quality?

A. A genuine curiosity about people and places.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

A. George Clooney-- or at least look like him.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?

A. I hope, a sense of humor.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

A. Patrick Leigh Fermor-- not fictional, but certainly the hero of his wonderful memoirs.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?

A. Iago.

Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

A. Shakespeare. "Just talk; I'll listen."

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?

A. People using cell phones in the street. Not getting a live person when you call customer service.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

A. Reading.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?

A. Film director.

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

A. Intelligence, humor, kindness.

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

A. Pasta.

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?

A. Easier probably to say which songwriters: Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, The Beatles, Antonio Carlos Jobim

On Books and Writing

Q. Who are your favorite authors?

A. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Marcel Proust, Evelyn Waugh, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

A. Remembrance of Things Past, The Great Gatsby, A Handful of Dust, Middlemarch,A Time of Gifts.

Q. Is there a book you love to reread?

A. The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh.

Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

A. You are already in every word-- become interested in someone else.

Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?

A. Positive: authentic feel for place. Negative: not fast enough (but I fear I ignore this).

Q. How did you come to write Stardust?

A. When I was writing The Good German, a novel about a city (Berlin) physically and morally devastated by the war, I became interested in what happened to the people who'd managed to get out-- the exiles who were part of the great intellectual diaspora of the 30s. I was particularly interested in the emigres who ended up in Los Angeles (Thomas Mann, Brecht, Schonberg, Stravinsky, an endless, impressive list), partly because so few of us know about their time there and partly because it seemed to me an anomaly, an inherently dramatic collision of cultures: the keepers of the High Culture of old Europe suddenly adrift in a city of soda fountains and Betty Grable movies. I also thought their perspective would be a unique way of looking at Hollywood-- which, of course, was the real subject of the book. Stardust started with the Germans, but ended up as a book about the studio system at the very height of its success (in 1946 more Americans went to the movies than would ever go again), just before it came under siege by politicians determined to use some of its stardust for their own purposes.

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