Kirstin Valdez Quade on Fleur Jaeggy, Middlemarch, and Sarah Waters Sex Scenes
Rapid-Fire Book Recs From the Author of The Five Wounds
Welcome to the Book Marks Questionnaire, where we ask authors questions about the books that have shaped them.
This week, we spoke to the author of The Five Wounds (out this week in paperback), Kristin Valdez Quade.
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Kirstin Valdez Quade: Ramona the Pest. In first grade I got shushed for giggling during Silent Reading.
BM: Favorite re-read?
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
KVQ: So many! Early on, Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima and Flannery O’Connor’s “Parker’s Back.” An amazing, unsettling scene in Meg Woliter’s The Interestings inspired one of my scenes. I was already deep into the drafting when I read Anne Enright’s The Green Road, but when I did I thought, That’s what I want to do on the page.
BM: A book that blew your mind?
KVQ: Sweet Days of Discipline, Fleur Jaeggy.
BM: Last book you read?
KVQ: Our Country Friends, Gary Schteyngart
BM: A book that made you cry?
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
KVQ: A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself, Peter Ho Davies. Heartbreaking and wonderful and also very funny.
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
KVQ: A brilliant not-yet-published manuscript of a memoir by Brittany Perham. It also made me cry out loud. Emma Duffy-Camparone’s dark and delightful Love Like That also made me laugh.
BM: What’s one book you wish you had read during your teenage years?
KVQ: Anything with a queer character!
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
KVQ: The Summer Book, Tove Jansson
BM: Classic book you hate?
KVQ: Hate is an awfully strong word, but I was not into Frankenstein.
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
KVQ: The second half of War and Peace.
BM: What’s a book with a really great sex scene?
KVQ: Sarah Waters can really write a sex scene.
BM: Favorite book no one has heard of?
KVQ: I’m always late to the party, so I assume everyone’s heard of anything I’ve heard of, but Ihad never heard of Sybille Bedford’s A Legacy until I found it in a free box. I was immediately absorbed by this strange aristocratic world in Germany in the inter-war period.
BM: Favorite book of the 21st century?
KVQ: An impossible question! Maybe Alice Munro’s Runaway.
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
KVQ: Middlemarch, Best American Short Stories 2018, edited by Roxane Gay.
BM: Favorite children’s book?
KVQ: Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories.
BM: Book you wish would be adapted for a film/tv show?
Kirstin Valdez Quade is the author of The Five Wounds, winner of the Center for Fiction’s First Novel prize. Her story collection, Night at the Fiestas, won the John Leonard Prize from the National Book Critics Circle, the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation. Kirstin is the recipient of a Lannan Fellowship, the John Guare Writer’s Fund Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award. She teaches at Princeton.
Kirsten Valdez Quade’s The Five Wounds is out this week in paperback from Norton