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Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?

Ben Lerner, Anne Carson, A. M. Homes, Hilton Als, Sharon Olds, Jonathan Cott.

What book, if any, most contributed to your artistic development?

All of John Berger and all of Natalia Ginzburg. I read Ginzburg in Beginning Italian in college. We read her because the vocabulary was small and the language and grammar were plain. The concepts, emotions and characters in her books are complex and unforgettable.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

Regarding choice and freedom, “Heaven My Blanket, Earth My Pillow: Poems From Sung Dynasty China,” by Yang Wan-Li. My favorite poem begins with the lines “Don’t read books! Don’t chant poems! When you read books your eyeballs wither away…” and concludes with the lines “It’s beautiful to listen to the wind, listen to the rain, take a walk when you feel energetic, and when you’re tired go to sleep.”

Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?

How to develop the mental, spiritual, physical and emotional abilities to thrive in the midst of chaos and collapse.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

Being able to hear the voice of the author. For example, I can’t read a book by William Burroughs without hearing his laconic nasal twang in every sentence. Recently we (the Lou Reed archive) assembled “I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Collected Lyrics of Lou Reed.” This writing began as songs — grooves, melodies, shouts and moans. For a long time the words were inseparable from the sound of his unmistakable voice. Now that the collection is complete, the words have a new life on the page. Silent. Words without sound. Now you can read these words at your own rate. They resonate in new ways, they belong to you, tell your story. They have all become mirrors.

Do you prefer books that reach you emotionally, or intellectually?

This is that irritating question again: if you could have no eyes or no ears which would you chose to lose?

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