One Minute With: Simon Schama
Friday 30 July 2010
Where are you now and what can you see?
I'm sitting on the back deck of my house in the Hudson Valley, looking into the vegetable garden – and looking out for the woodchuck. The wildlife here, 25 miles from New York City, is amazing: woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks. There was a dead garter snake on the path this morning.
Whar are you currently reading?
'Near to the Wild Heart', the first novel by [Brazilian writer] Clarice Lispector. It's an astonishing debut – a modernist-stream-of- consciousness that sounds like hell but is actually brilliant.
Choose a favourite author and say why you like him/her
Italo Svevo. I return to 'Confessions of Zeno' every few years. It's poignant, clumsy, elegant, funny - and the greatest novel ever written about failing to give up smoking.
Describe the room where you usually write
In the summer, I write outside on this wooden deck. If the sunlight gets too fierce or if we have the titanic thunderstorms we get here, I retreat to the kitchen, and an old scrubbed-pine table.
What distracts you from writing?
Music. Because I can listen to any music, from Bach to The Ramones. And tinkly background music is the worst.
Which fictional character most resembles you?
It has to be [AA Milne's] Tigger.
What are your readers like when you meet them?
It's one of the most wonderful gifts: they are so generous... And they're often shyly confessional – saying perhaps that 'The Power of Art' helped them feel better when they were ill.
Who is your hero/ heropine from outside literature?
[Philosopher and theologian] Martin Buber. Because for him the core of being Jewish is an understanding of other people. "I-Thou": to put yourself in someone else's shoes.
Simon Schama's 'Scribble, Scribble, Scribble' is published by Bodley Head.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
Eurovision 2015: What date is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 4, review: Sansa in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Noel Gallagher 'cannot wait' to hear Oasis-inspired One Direction album but rants about 'pointless' Tidal and Spotify
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show