What are you reading?
Megan: “This summer, I’ve been reading a lot of chick-lit — books about girls and their adventures with their careers and with men. I’d been reading more serious stuff for school, so it was just kind of nice brain mush. I just bought 4 Blondes, by Candace Bushnell, and I just finished The Washingtonienne, by Jessica Cutler. I didn’t like the main character as a person, but she was fun to read about — really fun, selfish, and self-indulgent — having affairs with married politicians so she could pay her rent. It’s based on a true story.”
Benjamin: “I just finished The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey; I really loved it. It’s about eco-terrorists who go around trying to save the Southwest from development, blowing up bridges, sabotaging bulldozers. I’m from the Southwest, and you can tell that Abbey really cares about his subject. He’s a beautiful descriptive writer, and I really liked his imagery. Right now, I’m reading The Iliad because I never got to it in school, and I’ve got to fill in the gaps. I feel like I managed to take all the English classes that read all the silly books.”
What did you like or find memorable about the books?
Megan: “The memorable scenes in The Washingtonienne are, um, kind of sexual.”
Benajmin: “I like Achilles because I kind of like his arrogance — not that I identify with arrogance! I like how human and petty the gods are — really jealous and temperamental. I think it’s hilarious.”
Do you have a favorite author?
Benjamin: “Richard Brautigan. I think he was popular in the ‘60s, but I don’t want to call him a beat writer. When I first read him, his was the most original writing I had ever encountered — very simple and to the point, with no extra fat. But very vivid — you don’t miss anything.”
What book has been most life-changing for you?
Megan: “Lolita by Nabokov wasn’t life-changing, but I really liked it. I liked his writing, how you could kind of feel sympathy for Humbert even though you felt it was wrong to feel for him.”
Benjamin: “The Abortion, by Brautigan. There’s a specific chapter where he writes about the love these two people have for each other. The way he speaks about this woman is just so tender and caring; it’s really moving. The story is about the woman getting an abortion and their journey before and after. They just endure it. It wasn’t this cheesy, ‘Oh, they had a revelation.’ He writes about it in terms of how difficult it was.”
Do you read magazines or newspapers?
Megan: “When I go to my parents’ house, I read the Wall Street Journal. But it’s expensive. I read the New York Times online.”
Benjamin: “At our school, they give the New York Times and USA Today away for free; when I go, I always pick them up. But I get most of my news from the radio.”
Do you talk to your friends about reading?
Megan: “We have a book club. We talk about what we liked and didn’t like, what spoke to us. A lot of times, after you read a book, you want to comment on it. If someone else has read it, it’s fun to bounce ideas off of each other.”
Benjamin: “I talk to my mom a lot. She’s a big reader, and I inherited my Brautigan books from her. I tend to automatically have respect for her opinion about a lot of things, though I’m sure there are some things we’ve disagreed on.”
Name: Megan Jones and Benjamin Inouye | Age: 22 and 24, respectively | Occupation: Graduate students
Neighborhood: Mission Valley and East Village | Where interviewed: 5th Avenue Books, Hillcrest