Bookmarks spotlights the personalities and published books of faculty, staff and alumni.
Today, we hear from poet and novelist Marianne Micros, PhD’89, whose new book of short fiction, Eye, is published by Guernica Editions. Micros specializes in Renaissance (Early Modern) literature. Her poetry includes Seventeen Trees (Guernica, 2007), about her Greek heritage and her travels in Greece; and a collection, Upstairs Over the Ice Cream.
What book do we find you reading tonight?
I finished reading a story from Alice Munro’s Runaway. I also am reading a suspense novel by Karin Slaughter and Margaret Christakos’ Her Paraphernalia.
How do you decide what to read? Reviews, word of mouth, maybe occasionally judge a book by its cover?
Both reviews and word of mouth. But my favourite way to find books to read is browsing in the public library and in bookstores.
Name one book you wish you had written. And why.
I would love to have written Gwendolyn MacEwen’s The T.E. Lawrence Poems– all the poems are brilliant – but I am so glad that she was the one who wrote it. I admire her work so much and know that I will never be able to write the way she did.
Name one book you could never finish. And why.
Each book of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartethas received high praise. I started reading My Brilliant Friend, but never finished it. I admired it and knew it was probably a superb book but it did not hold my attention. This does not reflect on the quality of the book: it is just that I prefer to read mysteries and suspense novels when I am reading for fun. A book has to grab my interest right from the beginning.
What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
I don’t think any book on my shelves would surprise people who know me. I have shelves and shelves of books that include: writings by medieval and Renaissance writers; academic books on those writers; fantasy books; ghost stories; books on the occult; children’s books; books by and about Scottish writers and books of Scottish history; Greek and Latin classics; modern Greek literature and books about Greece; poetry of all eras; psychological studies; dance studies and dance manuals; books about women and feminism; fiction of all lengths and kinds, including mysteries, suspense novels, and romances; mythology; folktales; and on and on. So what could be surprising? Perhaps Stephen Hawking’sA Brief History of Time? And I even read it! Or a magazine called Elvis, volume 5?
Any genres you avoid? And why?
I don’t avoid any genres but when I am reading for pleasure, I do not like to read non-fiction. It’s all fiction for me! I also prefer not to read memoirs of an abusive childhood or any stories, fiction or non-fiction, in which something bad happens to children. That is too upsetting for me!
If you could require every university president to read one book, what would it be? And why.
University presidents are steeped in information about governance, administration, education, leadership. They have probably read and discussed those topics endlessly. I expect they need some relief, something to cleanse them, revive their spirits, bring them back to the personal and the emotional. I recommend something different – perhaps fantasy literature and humour. Even fantasy literature has messages, and often good ones. I suggest that they should read Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderlandand Through the Looking Glass. And also a good dose of Edward Lear’s limericks.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
I would love to meet Margaret Cavendish, the 17th-century woman writer who crossed boundaries and dared to speak out about the position of women. She would have quite a conversation with Charlotte Bronté (Couldn’t we include her sisters, as well?) and Margaret Atwood.
How do you explain what your latest book is about to them?
I would be more interested in hearing them converse with each other. But I would tell them that the stories in my book Eye are magical tales, several of them set in Greece, about wise women who can heal people and cure them of evil-eye curses; mothers and daughters; relationships and beliefs that stifle women and rob them of their freedom; the loss of the old ways, but their continuation in different forms in later societies. They would definitely relate to the subject of the confinement of women and the belittling of their power, as well as to stories about women dealing with loss and grief.
What is the best line you have ever written?
I have no idea!
Who would you want to write your life story?
I would like to write it myself. I am already doing that in my poetry.