Tim Wilson is the author of Their Faces Were Shining and is the foreign correspondent for TVNZ. Unity Books recently had the pleasure of launching the above novel to some fanfare, wine and lots of interested/adoring readers. Here Wilson talks about bathing other people’s children and half-forgotten quotes.
Which book caused you to love reading?
The Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon. My obsession was such that as I biked around New Plymouth, the yellow metal fire hydrant caps on the road stamped ‘FH’ reminded me of the young sleuths’ beloved and wise father Fenton Hardy.
What are you currently reading & how did you come across the book?
The Tree by John Fowles. I discovered it on an email list for the NY literary magazine Open City; the annual appeal for funds included a reference to this volume having had a second life around the world. Oh really? I hadn’t read Fowles in a long time, so thought I’d take the chance. The book’s a conundrum. A mix of reminiscing about his father, nature watching, phenomenology, philosophy, and uncertain reasoning; it’s told briefly but with long thoughtful, character-infused sentences.
What is the book you have re-read the most?
Probably Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge, which – having completed it – I turned to page one, and continued reading. I knew what had happened, I wanted to know how it had happened. I’m not a great re-reader, to my shame, though I’ve likely breached the age whereby the benefits of re-reading demand a change in habit. But there are so many volumes still unread.
Favourite book to movie adaptation?
The Seven Year Itch adapts a play, which at some point, doubtless, was a book.
Who are your favourite poets?
Philip Larkin, Frederick Seidel, Catullus, Tony Hoagland.
Who or what impresses you most?
Grace. Vulnerability. Geoff Cochrane.
What books are next to your bed?
The Best Of It Kay Ryan (poetry: half-read)/Smoking in Antarctica Steve Braunias (consumed with admiration)/The Dud Avocado Elaine Dundy (ditto)/A Little Learning Evelyn Waugh (completed but somewhat chewy)/The Rest Is Noise Alex Ross (barely started)/The Life of St Francis St Bonaventure (half-read)/A Fan’s Notes Frederick Exley (abandoned)/Catullus Charles Martin (almost finished, want to savour the notes on Catullus’s form)/Letters of Marcel Proust to Antoine Bibesco (only read the intro; Bibesco was one of the models for the character of St. Loup): thus my pretensions and shiftlessness are displayed.
What’s your idea of happiness?
Successfully bathing and clothing my five-month-old nephew Oscar, looking into his sister Milly’s eyes.
Favourite literary quote?
“Nothing kills a man more quickly than…” oh blast, I forget.