1) Total number of books I've owned:
I've never counted, but I suspect that I have well in excess of a thousand, here in Toronto and back in Charlottetown. I own perhaps fifty travel guide books from the Rough Guides series, for instance, acquired as a teenager from a surplus bookstore at low prices. Of all of these, perhaps three or four hundred are with me in Toronto. (Freight charges are high, and the amount of free space available to me low.)
2) The last book I bought:
Anthony Arthur's Literary Feuds. This book concentrates exclusively on disputes between American authors, these disputes tending to be sordid. Gore Vidal versus Truman Capote, for instance. The book is redeemed from being purely gossip by its recounting of the dispute between Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy over the former writer's misrepresentations and lies, in her memoirs and elsewhere. Disputes over memory--what should be remembered? how important is the truth? how--always have fascinated me.
3) The last book I read:
Jon Ronson's Them- Adventures with Extremists. See my next post.
4) Five books that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):
Origins--Cosmos, Earth, and Mankind by Hubert Reeves et al. This book, translated from the (European) French, manages to combine the grand schematics of Teilhard de Chardin with the best of modern science.
Surfacing by Margaret Atwood. A classic of Canadian literature, Surfacing is the title that proves Margaret Atwood does have a sense of humour.
Memoirs of Montparnasse by John Glassco. This memoir of an obscure Canadian writer's several years in interwar Paris is a fascinating read, not least because of the implications of its fabrications upon biographies as a genre.
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. Carter mastered the rhetoric of the uncanny, constructing beautifully intricate and quietly deadly universes for her protagonists. I wish that I could have met her.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. At her best, Woolf wrote with a beautifully poetic lucidity. Mrs. Dalloway is just a novel about a day in the lives of some Londoners, but Woolf manages to convey these lives so well.
5) Tag five people and have them fill this out in their LJs
Pearsall Helms at Pearsall's Books.