23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Confessions and dog ears – ckecked in with Lauren Oyler

Portrait Lauren Oyler
Lauren Oyler [© Pete Voelker]

We introduce the authors of the 22nd ilb – with questions about writing, reading and unfinished reading. Here Lauren Oyler reveals where she prefers to pretend the writing process is a provisional and spontaneous matter.

Confession time: Which major classic have you started… but not
finished?

»Emma« by Jane Austen.

The age-old question: hardback or paperback? And why?
Paperback, for ease of use and transport. I don’t mind destroying my books.

If an unpublished book was to be discovered by an author, which author would you want that to be?
Virginia Woolf, because I’ve read them all, except one, and I don’t want to run out.

The essential question: bookmarks or dog ears?
I try to use bookmarks, but I always lose them, and settle for a pen stuck in the book at the right page, which also tends to fall out in my bag pretty much immediately. I dog-ear pages to mark interesting passages, not to mark my progress.

Which book is on your nightstand just now?
»Exercises in Style« by Raymond Queneau, »Herzog« by Saul Bellow, »Mating« by Norman Rush, Kafka’s »Letters to Milena«, Kafka’s diaries, »Three« by Ann Quin, »Murphy« by Samuel Beckett, »In Europe« by Geert Mak, »The Clown« by Heinrich Böll, and a bunch of Nabokovs that I seem to be storing there.

Which is your favorite book store in the whole world?
»Saint George’s« in Prenzlauer Berg.

Who was your greatest discovery of the year so far? And why?
After years of hearing friends sing her praises, I read two books by Barbara Pym, »Excellent Women« and »Less Than Angels«. I love postwar British fiction, particularly by women, and Pym’s dry humor is the perfect antidote to more contemporary, sentimental attempts to characterize the position of women in society and in romance.

If you were allowed to read only one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
»Pale Fire« by Nabokov [incidentally, not one of the ones on my nightstand].

Where do you prefer to write, and why?
At the kitchen table. I need to pretend that the writing process is provisional and spontaneous – in other words, to pretend that I’m not actually writing.

Do you read your own books after they’ve been published?
Not yet!

We look forward to welcoming Lauren Oyler to this years’ international literature festival berlin on September 16. In her debut »Fake Accounts«, a blogger discovers that her boyfriend is spreading conspiracy theories on the Internet. When he dies shortly thereafter, she begins a game with virtual identities. Further information can be found here.