Good Reading : September 2005
goodreading 7 What are you reading now? At the present moment, at long last, I am finishing Kathleen Sharp’s ‘fly-on- the-wall’ dual-biography of Mr & Mrs Hollywood – Lew and Edie Wasserman who were considered the King and Queen of Hollywood for many decades because of their agency and their production unit, MCA, and Universal Studios which MCA finally controlled.Along with that book, I also have bookmarks in Simon Callow’s biography of Orson Welles, by far the best book about OW to date, John Mann’s Genghis Khan, Hilary Spurling’s two-volume biography of Henri Matisse, Simon Schama’s Rembrandt’s Eyes, Emil Ludwig’s Napoleon, Jung Chang’s Wild Swans and her just published Mao, plus such dip-into books as David and Gerda Foster’s AYear of Slow Food, Sally Searle and Cathy Meeus’ Secrets of Pilates. Favourite authors? Chaucer, Shakespeare,Webster, Dickens, Defoe, Emily Brontë, Edgar Alan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Loved some of Xavier Herbert, adored Charmian Clift (her writings as well as herself), admire some of Colleen McCullough’s stuff, always enjoyed Lawson and Patterson, Dal Stivens, Lenny Low, Katharine Susannah Prichard, Norman Lindsay, Peter Robb, Sumner Locke Elliott, Ruth Park, Desmond Barry, Cormac McCarthy, Antony Beevor, etc, etc. Looking at the books on your shelves, is there a category that dominates? (Biography, history, fic- tion, etc.) Have a lot of everything. My wife, my son and I must have about 5000 books between us. Author you would most like to meet? Why? I’d ‘like to meet’ Delia Falconer one day because she certainly chose an odd subject for her last novel, The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers which pivots around the character of Major Benteen and because I once played Benteen in a 1956 Columbia Pictures’ film, The 7th Cavalry, which starred Randolph Scott. Book you loved best as a child and why? Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Because it belonged to my favourite uncle and because my maternal grandmother read ittome–andalsobecauseithadalot of illustrations. Favourite book title? Pickwick Papers. Book you never finished or book you have not enjoyed? Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex,Tim Winton’s Dirt Music, Janette Turner Hospital’s Due Preparations for the Plague. Book you have been meaning to read, but never got round to? The Koran. My late brother-in-law gave me a beautiful copy just before he died last year. Favourite film of a book and why? Seven Pillars of Wisdom and thus the film Lawrence of Arabia, even if it was based on a script by Robert Bolt. Favourite fictional hero or heroine and why? The Scarlet Pimpernel. Because he was just too smart for those damned Frenchies who sought him here, there, everywhere. All time favourite book? Emil Ludwig’s Napoleon. Which books do you reread? Haven’t the time to do much re-reading. Your favourite place to read? Bed. Do you use bookmarks or do you fold back page corners? Always bookmarks. How could you think of turning back the corners of a love of your life? Favourite bookshops? (In Australia and overseas) Every bookshop is my favourite although Grand Central in New York, Shakespeare in Paris, Martindale’s in LA, Angus & Robertson on Castlereagh [Street, Sydney], Dymocks on George [Street, Sydney] always drew me like ten tonne magnets. Where are most of the books in your home? In every room in the main house and the third wing which includes a granny flat and an office, etc. However, we draw the line at toilets, although books are allowed to be held there, never left. How are the books on your shelves organised? (Alphabetical, by genre, face out, lying flat, higgledy piggledy) For the most part, biographies and autobiographies are shelved alphabeti- cally, fiction by author, history by coun- try. Mostly each section neat, books findable, gettable. *One of the legends in Richard Simpkin’s Australian Legends published by New Holland, rrp $34.95 michael pate me my shelf i Writer, actor, producer, director MICHAEL PATE* has had a lengthy career in show business in both Australia and America. He’s probably best remembered for his role as a Native American in the John Wayne film, Hondo and for his starring role in Matlock Police. Not surprisingly his reading life very much reflects his working life.