Literary Hub

Scott Turow on Rereading Herzog and Abandoning Joyce

Scott Turow’s latest book, Testimony, is available now from Grand Central. 

What was the first book you fell in love with?
The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas, which I read during one of my many malingering periods of absence from grade school at the age of 10. The tale of costumes, sword fights and long-nurtured revenge thrilled me for three or four days of non-stop reading. Soon after, I began to wonder if it could be even more thrilling to write a book so wonderful.

Name a classic you feel guilty about never having read?
Somehow I’ve never gotten around to reading Magister Ludi or The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse, despite being tremendously curious about the novel and vowing to read it a dozen times. On the other hand, there are dozens of so-called classics I’ve started and put down with no guilt at all—Finnegan’s Wake by Joyce is one example.

What’s the book you reread the most and why?
While I was in college and grad school I obsessively reread Herzog by Saul Bellow, and Rabbit Run by John Updike, because I was fascinated with how the books were made—the raucous, comic tone that often animated Herzog’s scholarly musings, or the microscopic detail that Updike managed to ascribe to Rabbit’s active mind.

Is there a book you wish you had written?
No lie, that is a list of hundreds, maybe thousands of books, and a feeling that visits me several times a year. I felt that way most recently reading Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, because of the sheer intensity with which it renders its characters internal lives.

Originally published in Literary Hub.

Related Interests

More from Literary Hub

Literary Hub5 min readPsychology
Why Are There Two Distinct Ways of Writing Norwegian?
Tror du det kommer til å bli regnvær i dag? That’s how to write “Do you think there will be rain today” in Norwegian. Or you could write it this way: Trur du det kjem til å verte regnvêr i dag? Norwegian is a single language which can be written acc
Literary Hub11 min read
Alain Locke’s Controversial Vision of a “Negro Renaissance”
Less than four months after the spectacular “Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro” issue of the magazine Survey Graphic appeared, Alain Locke, its guest editor, was out of a job. On June 16, 1925, Emmett Scott, Secretary-Treasurer of Howard University’s Bo
Literary Hub7 min readPolitics
David Ulin On The Broken Politics Of Rage
Let’s pretend, for the sake of conversation, that I’m more rational than I am. Let’s pretend that, during the Women’s March in Los Angeles two months ago, I didn’t get into it with a small group of counter-protesters, seven or eight men (what else wo