Good to Know
In our interview, Hart revealed some interesting facts about himself:
"My first car was a black MG Sprite with bugeye headlights. My girlfriend said she liked getting in and out of it more than she liked driving around in it. Our romance quickly fell apart."
"I love the Diamond Coast above all other places, for its remoteness."
"When I was working on Diamond, I met a bush pilot who had made a fortune in the stock market, betting on the Arctic diamond play. Yet he still flew a bush plane (a Twin Otter), and couldn't imagine doing anything else. I remember one flight where we flew mile after mile, hundreds of miles, very low to the ground, with this scarlet vegetation streaming by beneath us and lakes with white swans, and I thought the pilot must be the luckiest man on earth, to be able to pursue this life when he could easily afford any other. I guess it's the life of action that so appeals to a writer, whose life, after all, is mostly sitting in a room alone all day."
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In the winter of 2003, Matthew Hart answered some of our questions.
What was the book that most influenced your life -- and why?
It depends what age. When I was sixteen, The Alexandria Quartet. The life depicted by Durrell seemed very dissolute, which appealed to me. Later I liked Sir Gawayne and the Green Knight, for the sound of the language. After that, Italo Calvino's The Baron in the Trees, and lately, anything by Halldor Laxness, the Icelandic writer, which are the best books I've ever read. The characters persevere without heroism through the most desperate lives. The author's voice is vastly ironic and humane and comic.
What are your favorite books -- and why?
I can never do these lists, I'm sorry. For non-fiction, I'd walk a mile for anything by Susan Orlean.
Ronin, because of the car chases.
Opera. I can't hear jazz without grinding my teeth.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading -- and why?
It would be reading Halldor Laxness, but if you asked me next year it would probably be something else. Don't start with Independent People, though, because everyone will want to just stumble into the sea to escape. Start with Paradise Reclaimed, which has a great introduction by Jane Smiley, which you should read after reading the book.
What are you working on now?
A book about art theft in Ireland. It will have the very best crooks and the very best pictures and the very best of victims -- and how can you go wrong with Ireland?
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