Sunday, August 19, 2018
Books

Novelist Seth Greenland reading works by Hazzard, Abbey and more

Seth Greenland

Novelist Greenland returns to his roots by setting his new book, The Hazards of Good Fortune, in New York City and neighboring Westchester. The protagonist is Jay Gladstone, an heir to a massive real estate fortune, owner of an NBA team and an exemplary citizen who finds himself in an unfortunate position when remarks he made in anger leap into the viral universe via a smartphone video. Other books by Greenland include I Regret Everything, Bones, Shining City and The Angry Buddhist. Greenland is also a playwright and screenwriter whose play Jungle Rot received the Kennedy Center/American Express Fund for New American Plays Award and the American Theater Critics Association Award.

What’s on your nightstand?

Since everything is grist for the mill, I always read for a combination of work and pleasure. Whatever is on my nightstand reflects both modes of reading.

I just this morning finished The Great Fire, a novel by Shirley Hazzard that was extraordinarily good. Any lover of great literary fiction will respond to this book, which reads as if it were composed in another era, something I mean in a good way.

I’ve been working on a first-person nonfiction project so have been reading a lot of memoirs lately, the two most recent ones being Autumn Rhythm by the music writer Richard Meltzer and Desert Solitaire by the great anarcho-naturalist Edward Abbey. Aging hipsters will find the Meltzer engaging and, as for Abbey’s classic, lovers of nature and haters of its ravaging will not be disappointed.

Along those memoirish lines, I just read Outline and Transit, the first two novels in Rachel Cusk’s trilogy. They’re autobiographical fiction, so despite their being fiction I find them helpful with my current project. The Cusk books are for readers with slightly more adventurous tastes, as she’s doing something that is quite original. If you want plot, stay away.

And finally, on the purely nonfiction front, I recently finished Why Buddhism Is True by Robert Wright. He doesn’t try to prove the title literally but, rather, uses Buddhist insights to parse human psychology and behavior. I’m not a Buddhist, but as a novelist, I found it pretty illuminating.

Piper Castillo, Times staff writer

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