Last Sunday the New York Times ran an interview with Dean Koontz, in which the prolific novelist and Catholic discussed some of his favorite books and authors. Koontz is asked about his favorite novelists (these include Dickens and Marilynne Robinson), his favorite book from childhood (“The first book to enchant me was Kenneth Grahame’s ‘The Wind in the Willows’”), and who he’d pick to write his life story (Steve Martin). He is also asked what book he would require all Americans to read:
“The Complete Stories,” by Flannery O’Connor. No one has written better about the reality of evil. Few have written as well, with such sharp-edged compassion, about the weaknesses and follies of humanity, about the operation of grace in our lives and about the necessity of humility. Her stories—her intelligence and compassion—can restore reason to minds unhinged by our fame-obsessed, technology-obsessed culture that by so many mechanisms isolates more and more people even as it holds forth the (false) promise of a universal community.
Koontz is also asked: “What book did you feel you were supposed to like and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?”
“To the Lighthouse,” by Virginia Woolf, was interminable, lobotomizing. No doubt my failure. Recently, I’ve put down books when I realized the authors embraced their lead characters’ nihilism. If you believe that the world is a sewer, that life has no meaning, why bother to write a novel that, by your own philosophy, has no meaning? Perhaps Onan, son of Judah, would understand a nihilistic author writing a nihilistic novel to affirm the nihilism of the reader, but I have no interest.
Read the full interview here.