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.

More from Literary Hub

Literary Hub3 min read
5 Great Books You May Have Missed in September
You never know which books might get missed. Last month I found quite a few from small presses; this month most of my picks are from much larger imprints. We wouldn’t want it any other way, because if you could always predict which books made it to t
Literary Hub10 min read
Cadaverous Yet Blazing: Elizabeth Hardwick’s Ode to Bartleby
While preparing some lectures on the subject of New York City, that is, the present landscape in which an astonishing number of people still live, sustaining as they do the numerical sensationalism that qualifies New York as one of the great cities o
Literary Hub3 min read
America, Land Of The Refugee
This is the book I’ve been waiting a lifetime to write; one I started six years ago. Now, I’ve suddenly landed in a bubble of synchronicity. When I began to write, immigration was not the political firestorm it is today, but as I neared the end, it w