Liza Klaussmann, a great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville, grew up in Brooklyn. She received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Barnard College, then reported for the International Tribune in Paris. She wrote for the New York Times' DealBook for more than a decade. She recently completed an M.A. in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway in London, where she now lives. Klaussman's debut novel, Tigers in Red Weather (Little, Brown, July 17, 2012), is set on Martha's Vineyard, where she spent her summers as a child.
On your nightstand now:
To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild; Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vail; Sister by Rosamund Lupton; Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I need to have a good mix of fiction and nonfiction to dip into. Some, like To End All Wars and Everybody Was so Young, are arguably work, but what work it is.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The complete Grimm's Fairy Tales. This monster is a good 850 pages, singled-spaced. Of course, when I was very young, many of the stories were read to me. And I'm still fascinated and haunted by the strangeness and violence of these tales, like "The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs," "Snow White and Rose Red" and "Little Snow White," at the end of which the evil queen is forced to don iron slippers and dance on hot coals until she drops dead. Fabulous.
Your top five authors:
That's a tough one, because on my list of favorite authors there's no real hierarchy. So I'll go in alphabetical and just stop when I've reached five: Margaret Atwood; Charles Dickens; Joan Didion; F. Scott Fitzgerald; Ernest Hemingway.
Book you've faked reading:
Well, Moby Dick. For a long time I'd only read part of it. But I recently ploughed through the whole thing. It's not the easiest read I've ever encountered, but it is pretty damn magnetic.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. I'm rather fascinated by her story, as well as the book, which is just melodrama at its best and most exciting. Kind of the poster-child for guilty pleasure.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Can't think of one single instance where that's happened.
Book that changed your life:
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. It made me realize that implicit storytelling could be the most effective and moving and it also made me pack up my things and move to Paris.
Favorite line from a book:
There's a line from Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald in which he describes this magical moment at an al fresco dinner party the Divers are giving that encapsulates perfectly the whole world he is trying to conjure: "The table seemed to have risen a little toward the sky like a mechanical dancing platform, giving the people around it a sense of being alone with each other in the dark universe, nourished by its only food, warmed by its only lights."
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens. Anyone who's read it knows why.