Books have varying degrees of impact depending upon the age at which one reads them. For instance, when I was 32, my best friend and I read House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Put simply, it's about a young woman, Lily Bart, who manages to destroy every possibility of marriage and in the end, with no hope for her future, kills herself. Probably because we were around the same age as Lily, my friend and I vowed that "we must never end up like Lily Bart!" Now when I read the book, I frankly find Lily kind of annoying. She refuses to save herself; she refuses to act. There is something irritating and slightly un-American in her lassitude.
8. Have you ever read or written a perfect sentence? What was it?
The first two sentences from Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert published in 1869:
"On the 15th of September 1840, at six o'clock in the morning, the Ville-de-Montereau was lying alongside the Quai Saint-Bernard, ready to sail, with clouds of smoke pouring from its funnel.One is immediately set in the scene not just as onlooker, but participant. Also note the proper and effective use of the semicolon!
People came hurrying up, out of breath; barrels, ropes and baskets of washing lay about in everybody's way; the sailors ignored all inquiries; people bumped into one another; the pile of baggage between the two paddle-wheels grew higher and higher; and the din merged into the hissing of steam, which, escaping through some iron plates, wrapped the whole scene in a whitish mist, while the bell in the bows went on clanging incessantly."
9. What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome or challenge you have ever faced?
Depression. Stone cold depression where you cannot get out of bed and you're convinced you have a horrible disease and spend all your time writing half-baked suicide notes. And, of course, nobody can tell you what's wrong with you. But that was a long time ago, and there are now effective ways to deal with this issue.
10. What characteristic do you admire most in others?
Being a nice person. In movie stars, actors and any other kind of celebrity—the ability to act normal and not suck all the air out of the room.
11. What talent would you most like to possess?
Being able to fall asleep on planes.
Candace Bushnell opens up about her secret guilty pleasures