George Howe Colt is a former staff writer at Life magazine whose articles have been published in The New York Times, Civilization, and Mother Jones, among other publications. The author of The Enigma of Suicide, a critically acclaimed work of nonfiction, he lives with his family in rural western Massachusetts.
Author biography courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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In the fall of 2003, George Howe Colt took some time out to talk with us about some of his favorite books, authors, and interests.
What was the book that most influenced your life or your career as a writer -- and why?
T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." A friend introduced me to this poem when I was 15. It was the first piece of writing that got inside me and inhabited every part of me. It was the first piece of writing that made me think, "I'd like to be able to put words together that well."
What are your ten favorite books?Selected Poems by Rilke
A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley
Collected Poems by Elizabeth Bishop
World Poetry edited by Clifton Fadiman
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Life Studies and For the Union Deadby Robert Lowell
In the House of Stone and Light by Andre Dubus II
What are some of your favorite films, and what makes them unforgettable to you?
Le Souffle au Coeur, James and the Giant Peach, 1900, The Apartment, Women in Love.
What types of music do you like? Is there any particular kind you like to listen to when you're writing?
Classical, jazz, rock. I listen to classical (at very low volume) on the radio when I edit, but not when I write.
Many writers are hardly "overnight success" stories. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? What were your early career experiences like?
I'm not quite sure where I am today, but wherever I am, I got here by reading and writing as well and as much as I could.
The best job I've ever had was as a singing waiter for four summers on Cape Cod and Nantucket. There were seven in our group; we'd wait table from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., then sing show tunes, pop, folk, for three hours in the lounge. I loved performing. I find writing a lot less fun but a lot more fulfilling.
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