What is the last novel that you read that took your breath away?
I just reread Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. I love that novel and anything by him. As far as modern novelists go, I’ve been reading a lot of Lawrence Block. His Hitman series is fantastic.
What artist’s music makes you feel inspired to write?
I love jazz, especially cool jazz (although smooth jazz was created by sadists who decided to fetishize boredom). I always feel like writing though when I hear Harry Nilsson, Vince Guaraldi, or Joe Jackson.
What are your three favorite films of all time? Discuss each of them a little bit.
Before Sunrise – Like My Dinner with Andre, this is a long conversation between two people, but it’s set in Vienna. It develops a romantic relationship that’s flawed and naïve and very human. It’s sequel is equally good.
Midnight in Paris – It’s Woody Allen’s newest, and maybe my love for it will dwindle as time goes on, but like the main character, I’ve always dreamed of Paris in the 1920s, and I’ve always known my dreams are false. I love the portrayal of Hemingway as well. It’s good and honest and true.
Paper Lion – I’m not sure why I like this film so much. It’s a bio-pic about when George Plimpton joined the Detroit Lions. He is of course out of his element, but he’s able to analyze himself and America as he goes through training camp. The sound track probably makes it. It’s done by Vince Guaraldi, the same man who did the tracks for the Peanuts television specials, which are watchable because of the music and the background art more than because of the story.
What is a concert that you saw in person that you will never forget?
I saw Chris Isaac in a little bar on my 21st birthday. He’s great recorded and even better live.
Complete this sentence: “If I were to teach a course on the works of one author, that author would be…”
Graham Greene – His work is always interesting and steeped in a complex understanding of the human experience. He also lived through a period that often seemed hopeless and impossible to grasp, and he did not shy away from discussions of Vietnam, WWII, religion, the Cold War, and so many other relevant issues.
John Brantingham’s work has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s daily show Writer’s Almanac,
and he has had more than 100 poems and stories published in the United States and England
in magazines such as The Journal, Confrontation, Mobius, and Tears in the Fence. He is a
full-time professor at Mt. San Antonio College in Southern California and one of two fiction
editors of The Chiron Review, a nationally distributed literary magazine.