Jules Feiffer: “I took the book along on a family vacation and that pretty much concluded the family part of the vacation.”

From a New York Times Book Review “By the Book” interview headlined “The Novel That Made Jules Feiffer Ignore His Family on Vacation”:

What books are on your nightstand?

It doesn’t matter. I can’t read them. I can’t read more than a half page of anything, including my own books, except for children’s picture books. I guess you can’t have interviewed that many 91-year-olds. I have failing vision, plus a macula condition, which is not serious enough to blind me, but effectively prevents me from reading more than a paragraph or two without my vision blurring. So my reading days are effectively over, but I have no trouble watching TV on my 70-inch screen, and I must say I find the TV adaptation of Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America” a lot more credible, complex and involving than I did the book. . . .

Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).

I had put off reading Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” because I didn’t think a novel about the early years of comic books could tell me anything I didn’t already know. But I took the book along on a family vacation in the Dominican Republic, and that pretty much concluded the family part of the vacation. For five days, I barely moved from the beach chair by the front of our rental, totally consumed by Chabon’s brilliant re-creation of the trashy, often sleazy comic book world that was such an important part of my early boyhood dreams, setting me off on the path that was to determine who and what I was to become. Chabon, himself, was too young to have experienced any of this stuff. But my God, how he got every bit of it right! . . .

What moves you most in a work of literature?

The skilled and gradual unveiling of hidden truths. . . .

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Chekhov, Robert Benchley and my old friend, Roger Rosenblatt.

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