Five Quick Questions with Katie Chase

Author of Man & Wife

Author Photo © Calvin Eib

Welcome to Five Quick Questions, The Ribbon’s ongoing mini-interview project. We’ll send the same five questions to authors on their book tours, in advance of their readings at our store. Katie Chase reads at Literati on Monday, October 3 at 7pm.

Q: What are you reading now? What books will you be taking with you on tour (other than your own)?

I recently finished Amie Barrodale’s wonderful collection of idiosyncratic short stories, You Are Having a Good Time, and a translated novel called The Wall, written in the sixties by Marlen Haushofer — a brilliant feat of constraints following a woman in forced solitude in the mountains. Next I’m excited for Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk, Eimear McBride’s The Lesser Bohemians, and another older translation, Dino Buzzati’s The Tartar Steppe, recommended by my former teacher Kevin Brockmeier. (If you ever have the chance to see him read, ask for a copy of his regularly updated list of Fifty Favorite Books).

Q: Which section are you most likely to be caught browsing in at Literati?

After a browse of the new tables, I’m straight to fiction. I also love to see any displays of staff recommendations.

Q: If we could conjure up any writer, living or dead, to join you in conversation after the reading, who would it be? And what would you ask them?

I’d hate to do it to her, but if we could stand her behind a curtain and disguise her voice: Elena Ferrante. I’d invite her to expound on authorship and identity and how these affect the experiences of reading and writing.

Q: Is there a reading, anecdote, or piece of writing advice that’s stuck with you from any literary (or other) event you’ve attended?

In Portland, Oregon (where I live), I once attended the “Strange and Fantastic” themed night of the reading series Tell It Slant, at which Marjorie Sandor read a ghost story accompanied by a live musical score on keyboard. The interplay was perfection — spooky and funny (the story was about a couple being haunted by the husband’s ex-girlfriend) and a reminder that readings can shake up the staid and be a performance as creative and collaborative as any other. It was an act I didn’t envy having to follow!

Q: Literati’s Book Ninjas never waste time online — we’re too busy reading! — but since we’re here: what article or website have you lately found worth wasting time on?

I seem to spend a lot of time gathering links and less time actually getting lost in them. So I’ll recommend instead a podcast that has gotten me through a lot of slow afternoons at my day job. Book Fight (which is hosted by two of my colleagues from grad school) takes a writerly perspective on lit and the lit world; it’s smart and irreverent and full of tangential delight in the ridiculousness of life, which seems to me an essential part of the writing (or any) life. A recent episode included a taste testing of Pop Tarts.