Hello everybody, it has been a while but I’ve got another Reader Interview for you. Please wave enthusiastically at Kent Winward, a prolific reader, a man married to a writer and the man who always tries to get me to read another 5 books during the last week of the year….and as it turns out the inspiration for Kathy Bates character in that documentary Misery. Below is the only know photo from their wedding.
WARNING!!!This interview does contain puns!
Question 1: Tell us a bit about yourself. Have you ever been involved in the literary world and how many books have you read so far this year?
I’m a half-century plus old, rugby playing (still), consumer bankruptcy attorney, entrepreneur, father, grandfather, bibliophile, and for more than a decade, my better half has been the poet, author, artist, J.A. Carter-Winward.
Everyone becomes “involved” with the literary world when they begin reading books. Reading is the first involvement any of us have with the literary world. In my childhood, the literary world consisted solely of books, newspapers, magazines, and the written letter was still a thing. I have a stack of bundled letters with string around them somewhere. My main point I suppose is that I am older than the ubiquity of email and the fluidity of Twitter.
My undergraduate degree was in English, but English professor lost out to the practicality of a law degree, in part because I saw the flaws inherent in the education system and how it could suck the life out of literature and reading.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve published several authors. Our family was hit with some health problems, so I haven’t been able to do as much on that front as I would like, but look for a lot more from my small publishing house, Binary Press in the coming months. More books from J.A. and others. I’ve also been able to help out Horror, Sleaze, and Trash’s quarterly poetry publication, providing them with ISBN numbers so the prudes/trolls don’t kick them off GoodReads.
I’ve always written myself, too, so maybe one day soon I will have a book out there as well. J.A. and I met back when there was a thing known as the blogosphere and we were both writing there. I reviewed her first book online and over 13 years later I’m answering questions on your blog. The literary world is remarkable in the way you can’t predict what the written word does to shape our lives. I quite literarily and literally here because I wrote a book review on a blog in January of 2007.
As for how many books I’ve read so far this year, this raises two interesting philosophical question: First, what is a book? For purposes of this answer, I choose to define a book as something I can post as a book on GoodReads. This could mean anything from an essay or short story to a doorstop novel. I’m a stat geek, so I can tell you that at this writing, I am at 201 books for the year 2020. The longest being William Vollman’s The Luck Star and the shortest being Tobias Wolf’s wonderful short story, A Bullet in the Brain. For some reason this year, I’ve been delving into Comixology and reading a lot of graphic novels and comics. The Norwegian Jason is a favorite of mine.
Second, what is reading? I am audiobook fan and as the technology has progressed, I’ve developed speed listening techniques, but my earliest memories of books are being read to by my parents and being read to is reading in my book. For example this year, I’ve re-listened to J.A.’s No Trilogy (No Apologies, No Secrets, No Regrets) this year in the list of 201 as well. Is listening to your wife’s voice reading? When your wife is my wife, definitely. And if I don’t have my bluetooth earbuds in, I listen to her at home too.
Q2: You’re the first person I’ve interviewed that is married to a writer, now I’ve seen the movie Misery, was that accurate? I assume you are Kathy Bates in this version.
Of course I’m the Kathy Bates character, just the more creepy male variety of crazed fan. I did all the appropriate stalker-ish activity. All writers need stalkers. I am the stalker supreme. I gathered pictures off her social media and then posted them on my own blog. There was thins fantastic picture of J.A.’s bare back — ah hell, here it is — I took and used on my book review. I started out the book review with ” I’ve spent the last five nights going to bed with J.A.” I showed up unbidden in a snow storm for a book signing. It was the first time we met in person and I have the photo to prove it. After that followed a concerted effort of concealing my true motivations, which were to get her to write everyday and give me the exclusive first listen on her work. So far so good, but sometimes I worry that she has seen through my devoted husband persona and knows about my more sinister motivations. Like the time early in our relationship when we were in bed and I was grasping her tightly and not letting go. She made the literary reference to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, when she said, “Easy there Lenny.” Of course, I immediately released my grip and laughed so as to not give myself away. Or there was the time when she took my obsession and actually stuck it in a book.
Read the poem for yourself:
this morning driving to the studio
to record this book,
my husband made a confession.
he told me that this morning,
while he did me from behind,
he had his ear buds in and
he was listening to the audio of
me reading my audiobook,
it turned him on, he said.
what the fuck could i say to that?
hell, i didn’t even know how to feel
the verbiage doesn’t even exist,
and then i started thinking about you,
and all of the shit you might be doing
or listening to my words.
maybe you’re listening to my voice
while you’re running or driving;
maybe you’re reading while you
sit in a coffee shop
or wait for your partner to
brush his or her teeth
before coming to bed.
maybe you’re settled in the corner
of your couch
with some tea
and you’re reading this and saying,
yeah, yeah, i so get this;
or maybe you’re saying,
what the fuck? i can’t believe she wrote that.
now i’m thinking about everything
you might be doing right now as i write this—
and maybe, as you read this now
you’re thinking about me,
writing this epilogue/poem-thing
(only it’s in the past)
and you’re thinking about me
thinking about you
thinking about me writing it.
holy fucking shit, right?
Oh, and here is the audio if you want to listen.
See, she saw right through me and was ambiguous about my obsessive, creepy behavior. Listening to the audiobook, looking at that lovely back, going at it from behind, confessing to it later, getting her to put it in a book, then getting to put it on this blog, and then the whole Misery scenario cascades into this marvelous meta-factual dance so you don’t really know if I’m crazy or not, but I could be.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep cooking J.A. breakfast and having her read to me each morning. Please disregard any emails you might receive from her that she is being held captive — that would just be performance art.
P.S. I have multiple favorite Jason’s. You are my favorite English Book Blogger Jason.
Well that is obvious seeing as I’ve killed all other English Book Blogger Jasons.
Q3. This one is about speed reading, how does that work? 201 books read and April hasn’t ended yet! (which is really weird seeing as I’m posting this in May, but then I didn’t invent the calendar) I don’t think I could do that, too great a fear of missing something important in the book.
Hey, you aren’t related to the Jason from those Halloween movies are you?
I told you I was a stat geek. Here is my GoodReads chart turned into a graph.
Up until 2010, the speed on audiobooks was one speed, the speed of the narrator. The app was tweaked in 2010 and you could listen at 1.5 speed. In 2016, you could get up to 2x and by 2018, the speed was up to 3x. Since I’ve been listening to books longer than I’ve even been reading them, I think I’ve developed some skill in listening. It is a big debate, but listening to a book is not all that different from reading a book in my experience. I’ve found that the faster speeds actually make it easier to listen to the books, because believe it or not, a concentrated and steady reading rate is somewhere around 2 to 3 times faster than when the book is read out loud. This means the audio technology more closely mirrors just my normal reading speed, but audiobooks allow me to read when I’m doing the dishes, shoveling snow, commuting, or other things as indicated in my previous answer.
So in answer to your question, I’m not really a speed reader. I just consume a lot of books. The loss isn’t from the speed of consumption, but rather from the sheer volume and the fact that my noggin can’t hold it all.
I think in some ways it is a bit of a sickness — the amount and the incessant need to be in multiple books at any given time. The 201 books is a bit misleading which I eluded to in my first answer, since a bunch of those are short stories sold separately or rented out separately by my libraries (I have two) and comics/graphic novels which also tend to be shorter and quicker to read. The average page numbers this year per book is only about 150. I try and be an omnivore in my reading choices and hit on as many genres and voices as possible.
And listening to J.A. read to me each morning isn’t on there either.
But really isn’t that the existential dilemma of any bibliophile? Too many books, too little time, and time just keeps dwindling. Can you ever read enough? Or what is enough?
I’m just George Jetson on the reading treadmill.
Don’t get me started on those “Friday the 13th” movies, I spent most of my life with horny teenagers accidentally falling on my knife, can’t a man walk in the woods with his favourite knife in peace? Thank you for explaining the speed listening, must be like listening to chipmunks.
Q4: A two parter. What was the first book you fell in love with? And recommend us one book that everybody should read at least once in their life.
Sounds like you had a Tucker and Dale Versus Evil childhood — what with all the brain dead teenagers running around in the woods.
The first book I loved and the one book everyone should read?
I honestly don’t recall the first book I loved. I just remember loving books. The love of books is poly-amorous, you can love them all and not be unfaithful to the core idea of “book.” The first books I loved were probably picture books, then chapter books, then comic books, then books on cassette tape, then chapbooks, then books on CD, then books on mp3, then eBooks, then any book I could get my hands on. I have an extensive library, in real life, in boxes, and in digital formats. I could stop everything right now and I’d probably never work my way through all the books I have. So in answer to the first book I loved: books.
As for the second question, which one book should everyone read? One thing being promiscuous with books has taught me is that the one book that everyone must read is a false idea. I’ve had numerous books in my life that were the “one book” I needed right at that moment in my life. Homer’s The Iliad, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Kafka’s The Trial, Steinbeck’s Winter of Our Discontent, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and I could go on, but even more than one book, I find that I like to read by author. Last year I read everything by Milan Kundera. I read my wife, J.A. Carter-Winward constantly and repeatedly.
Getting into the mind of the author is the journey I love taking, so all the writings by everyone I listed above could contain the one book you might need, but here are some more authors in alphabetic order:
- Paul Auster
- J.G. Ballard
- Saul Bellow
- Charles Bukowski
- Robert Olen Butler
- Albert Camus
- J.M Coetzee
- Douglas Coupland
- Brett Easton Ellis
- Joshua Ferris
- Jack Kerouac
- Laura Kipnis
- Karl Ove Knausgard
- D.H. Lawrence
- Norman Mailer
- Haruki Murakami
- Anais Nin
- Philip Roth
- Jose Saramago
- David Shields
- Rebecca Solnit
- John Steinbeck
- John Updike
- David Foster Wallace
Those authors right there are a pretty big haystack to look for the one book you might need at the moment. (Note, that was more of a literary and essayist list. The non-fiction list is probably just as long.)
Each author provides a certain aspect that I really wouldn’t want to live without in my own life.
Good to see Bukowski making your list, a hero of mine.
Q5. Last question and the most important question you’ll ever get asked…at least on a site named for Gnomes….Gnomes! Are they heroes or villains and when they take over the world will you be joining them? (and before you ask they will not recommend injecting yourself with bleach to stay healthy, their policies will differ to Trumpy’s.)
It is at this point that things go quiet. As I was about to put out a call to Captain America I finally get a response from Kent.
Sorry for the delay, but gnomes are devious little creatures and I fully blame them for the delay in my response. Gnomes have haunted my life from the very beginning. I grew up listening to the record of Disney songs, most notably, The Gnome-mobile., a fifty year old earworm.
The Gnome Mobile (1967)
Walter Brennan promoting gnome reproductive rights. . . .
In years to come, I guarantee,
A dozen grandchildren at your knee,
And everyone of them proud to claim,
‘Mulrooney is me middle name.
And the whole plot of the show was making sure Jasper got some. I hadn’t realized how gnomes impacted my developmental phase until I got your question. Those damn Disney subversives.
Meanwhile, I was noticing that after I got your question, I was hearing about gnomes everywhere. Of course there is the classical traveling garden gnome schtick made famous by the wonderful movie Amelie. It isn’t really spoken anywhere, but gnomes seem to have this ability to help people find each other. Jasper and Shy Violet. Amelie and Nino.
So I was reading (listening) to Shorts: A Collection by J.A. (Carter-Winward), who I found through my own creepy stalkerishness and without gnome help as far as I knew, when I came across her story Patch Kit. As I was listening, I came across this line: “With an unholy screech, our part-cat, part-evil garden gnome leapt from under the bed and gripped Rita’s hair with ferocity.” Gnome! The word popped up from out of gnomewhere (There ain’t you glad I gave a Pun warning). Eerily, it also mentioned cats. Now Rita, if you must know was a be-wigged, blow up doll, but as funny as the whole story is, I was struck by the cat/gnome combo. I have never liked animals. J.A. says that the only reason I’m not a psychopath is because I like children and I keep telling her not to say that, but again, I digress. Gnome/cats.
Think about it. Gnomes live for centuries. Cats ostensibly have nine lives, but maybe they just live forever. Gnomes are devious little creatures. Cats are devious little creatures. Maybe J.A.’s cat/gnomes are responsible for capturing me. I know they make me feed them and empty their litter box every day. And they demand to be appreciated and as the head of the Gnome Appreciation Society, I’m guessing that is some kind of metaphysical gnome demand.
I’m just rethinking my entire life right now. I think I may have been spirited away into a romantic comedy with J.A. by cat/gnomes. It feels unsettling. . . .
Sorry, need to go feed the gnomes, they are yowling.
It’s one of those weird anomalies of life, once you acknowledge their existence you’ll see Gnomes everywhere, once you can see past their glamour you’ll notice things like 67% of products in a supermarket are actually Gnomes. FACT!
Just to finish of this here interview….now that you’ve been traumatised….Would you care to share a photo of your bookshelves?
These are some shots of my home library. I have a library at my office and other bookshelves throughout the house, but this should do it. Also, I through in a shot of my Bukoswksi shelf and Murakami shelf. See if anyone knows why the baseball cap. A mystery.
I Would like to thank Kent for taking part and fully immersing in the madness. Please follow him on twitter before he starts following you. I would also like to thank JA Carter-Winward for giving permission to use her poetry in this interview…not that I have asked her for permission but I know her husband and he can face those consequences….in fact he is now my lawyer.
If anybody out there wants to join me in another interview then just give me a shout.