Book Brahmin: Peter Golden

Peter Golden is a journalist, biographer and historian. His debut novel, Comeback Love, about a couple exploring the possibility of a second chance at love 35 years after their relationship ended during the turbulent 1960s, was published April 3, 2012, by Atria, but its publishing history goes back more than two years: it was the first novel released by Staff Picks Press, a publishing house started by Susan Novotny, owner of the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, and Market Block Books, Troy, N.Y. Golden's O Powerful Western Star: American Jews, Russian Jews, and the Final Battle of the Cold War was just released by Gefen Publishing.

On your nightstand now:

I keep two piles of books on the floor, and I pick one to go through every night depending on my mood and energy. Some I'm reading; others I'm rereading to help with the novel I'm working on. Stanley Karnow's Paris in the Fifties, Tyler Stovall's Paris Noir, Richard Wright's Uncle Tom's Children, Patricia Ard's The Jews of New Jersey, Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, Philip Roth's American Pastoral, Russell Banks's Affliction, Sarah Pekkanen's The Opposite of Me, Jodi Picoult's Mercy, Lisa Tucker's The Winters in Bloom and Jennifer Weiner's Best Friends Forever.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. I loved that novel, but looking back I suspect that it appealed to me in part because I thought life on the high seas and the Scottish Highlands might be more exciting than riding my bike around Maplewood, N.J.

Your top five authors:

Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Baldwin and Nikolai Gogol. I also like living writers; that list, however, would be quite long.

Book you've faked reading:

Well, I've never entirely faked reading a book, but I may have skipped a word or two of Silas Marner.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The South Beach Diet. I read it again and again, but that doesn't seem to take off any weight. Still, I recommend it in case someone can get back to me with what I'm doing wrong. 

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. Liked the title, too.

Book that changed your life:

The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill. Saw James Earl Jones in the play in 1973 and thought I might want to be a writer. Bought the book the next day, read it, and knew that's exactly what I wanted to be.

Favorite line from a book:

"There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong." --From Prejudices: Second Series by H.L. Mencken.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.

Favorite line from a writer:

"There's no great art in confusing the reader." --Isaac Bashevis Singer.

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