Daniel Handler: Maybe I’ll Start a Dive Bar Proust Club
The Author of All the Dirty Parts on the Books in His Life
Daniel Handler’s new novel, All the Dirty Parts, is available now from Bloomsbury.
What was the first book you fell in love with?
The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It was a book I returned to in my childhood, over and over again, the story each time revealing something new to me: class differences, the power of the imagination, the way absences can transform a relationship, the mysterious (to me, as a boy) and ferocious dynamics of female friendship. I got to know Snyder a little bit and still have trouble believing she is not there in her little wooden house writing more books.
Name a classic you feel guilty about never having read?
I’ve never read any Proust. I keep threatening to start a Dive Bar Proust club, in which we’d discuss Proust in various dive bars, and now I feel that I won’t read Proust until I actually get this organization going.
What’s the book you reread the most?
Tom Drury’s The Black Brook, which delights me to no end. I bullied it back into print just so I could talk to the author about it in an introduction, and still I return to it, on sad days or when I have the flu, and it makes me laugh out loud.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
This question always unnerves me. There are many books I love very much, but because I love them I have nothing but respect and admiration for the authors and can’t imagine wanting to take their work away. Plus, then people would just say, “Hmm, Handler’s new novel All The Names rips off Jose Saramago pretty heavily.”
What’s the new book you’re most looking forward to?
My pal Sarah Manyika had the good fortune to interview Toni Morrison and told me that Morrison was working on a new book. Let’s get a spreadsheet going to chip in and take turns doing Morrison’s errands so she can finish it quicker. Who’s in?