[For an explanation of this series, see the post The (Book) Lives of the (Not So) Rich and (Marginally) Famous. I will be asking the same questions of all I interview, with a few followup questions as needed.]
Roy Starling recently retired as a teacher of English at Oviedo High School in Oviedo, Florida. Prior to that he was a professor of literature at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He has a PhD in literature from Florida State University. Though I never sat in his classroom, he has several attributes that tell me he was a wonderful teacher: a love of his subject, a passion for his students, and a good sense of humor. I’ve observed all this in him over the years I’ve known him. Roy is a wonderful writer who blogs at StarkNotes.
Randy: In the past year, approximately how many books did you read for ‘enjoyment’?
What motivates you to read such books?
Pleasure, but not what is mistakenly referred to as guilty pleasure.
What is the difference between ‘pleasure’ and ‘guilty’ pleasure?
It might’ve been Stephen King who said it’s time for us to retire the ‘guilty’ in front of pleasure. If you’re reading and it’s pleasurable, why would you feel guilty? Infinite Jest gave me pleasure. Duma Key is giving me pleasure, but not the same kind. But it sure isn’t guilty. I haven’t done anything wrong. Also books not considered a part of the literary canon by academics would supposedly evoke guilt from a lit professor.
Language used well gives pleasure, end of story, turn out the lights, don’t let the screen door, etc.
How do you choose what books you will read?
Hearsay, plus knowledge of an author, plus a decent possibility that the book will be complex, True, aesthetically appealing, and thought provoking.
Exception: Stephen King for the pure pleasure of reading as a worthwhile pastime, and hence not guilty.
What book or books are you reading now?
Donald Barthelme’s short stories
Stephen King, Cell
Joyce Carol Oates, Little Bird of Heaven
What three or four books do you find you most often recommend to others?
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Kate Atkinson, Life After Life or A God in Ruins
Don DeLillo, White Noise
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
David Guterson, Our Lady of the Forest
For non-readers (who are probably only going to read my recs):
Stephen King, 11/22/63 or Misery