Lawrence Dorfman has more than 30 years of experience in the book world, including stints in sales at Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Abrams. His Snark Handbook series includes Snark Handbook: Sex Edition, Snark Handbook: Insult Edition, his latest, Snark! The Herald Angels Sing (Skyhorse Publishing, November 1, 2011), and in 2012, Snark Handbook: Politics and Government Edition. He lives in Hamden, Conn.
On your nightstand now:
I've got a galley of The Great Leader by Jim Harrison. I love that man. He has consistently made me laugh with every new book. Even the food one. I also have Carol Sklenicka's bio of Raymond Carver when I want to be sad and depressed. Below the nightstand (PBB--pile by the bed) is the two-volume Library of America collection of H.L. Mencken. Too heavy for the nightstand but unbelievably great stuff.
Your top five authors:
Hard to stay with just five but if we're talkin' dinner party: Jim Harrison, Tom McGuane, Richard Price, T.C. Boyle and early Stephen King.
Book you've faked reading:
Crime and Punishment, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I also sold both The Satanic Verses and The Bell Curve and, oh yeah, of course I read 'em!
Book you're an evangelist for:
A weird little book called BOOK by Robert Grudin. I sold this book in paperback at Penguin and loved it more than I should have. It's a skewering of academia in which the footnotes are so put off by the pompousness of the narrator and characters that they take over the book. It's where my love for snarky footnotes was born.
Books you've bought for the cover:
Chip Kidd's Book One and A History of Playboy Magazine (but just for the articles--oh yeah, and the cover... and the pictures).
Book that changed your life:
Crime and Punishment.
Actually, it's hard to think back but the book my best friend (who was two years older) gave me when I was 13 or so was God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut. Immediately I went out and got everything else from the library--had to get a note from my mother that it was okay for me to read them.... Something clicked, or snapped, not sure which.
Favorite line from a book:
"When I find the right crooked doctor, I'm going to laugh in your face." A McGuane line from Panama (I think) used later with great effect on a live Warren Zevon record. I also love the opening to Jim Harrison's novella The Man Who Gave Up His Name: "Nordstrom had taken to dancing alone." Not sure why but it grabs me every time.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Stand by Stephen King. Read it when it came out, finished it and immediately started to read it again. All 900 and something pages. Skipped work, too. Really bad cough.
Books you'll read again and again for no apparent reason:
Money by Martin Amis; Fear and Loathing (anywhere) by Hunter Thompson; High Fidelity by Nick Hornby; Warlock by Jim Harrison; Moon Palace by Paul Auster.