Reading Group Choices Interview with Julia Fine

Julia Fine’s newest book of literary fantasy What Should Be Wild is a darkly-funny, striking debut.

Julia Fine recently visited Wisconsin to read and discuss her work with an audience. Julia also kindly took the time to answer our Q&A after she shared part of her book.

702WI: What book changed your life?
Julia Fine: Atonement by Ian McEwan.

702WI: What book(s) are coming out this year that you’re looking forward to reading?
JF: Everything Under by Daisy Johnson. The Witch Elm by Tana French.

702WI: What books are currently stacked next to your bed/on your desk/in your pile-to-read?
JF: Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday, Willa & Hesper by Amy Feltman, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower, My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci, Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom ed. Leonard Marcus

Julia Fine is the author of What Should Be Wild

702WI: What book did you most recently recommend to someone else?
JF: Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt. The Quiet Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown.

702WI: What was your favorite book when you were a child?
JF: Eloise by Kay Thompson has always had a special place in my heart. Many Moons by James Thurber. Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle.

702WI: Who are your favorite writers?
JF: A small sampling: Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter, Helen Oyeyemi, George Eliot, Karen Russell, F Scott Fitzgerald, David Mitchell, Sarah Waters, Robert Penn Warren, Jorge Luis Borges, Kazuo Ishiguro, Dylan Thomas, Hilary Mantel

702WI: What book/s could you never part with? Think “stranded-on-a-desert-island” books.
JF: Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

702WI: What fictional character do you most identify with? Why?
JF: I like to think I’m a Jo March, but in reality I’m probably more of an Amy. Can I say Amy March meets Hermione Granger? A bit of a snob and a know-it-all…

702WI: Is there a creator who is doing something you find amazing?
JF: Hannah Gadsby. She’s basically created a new genre with Nanette, her standup comedy special—it’s provocative and painful and absolutely brilliant.  

702WI: What do you wish you knew more about?
JF: Pretty much everything! Catholic saints and astrophysics and the history of department stores and nature photography. The lives of my great- and great-great-grandparents. Money management.  

One of our recommended books is What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine702WI: Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
JF: Michelle Obama and/or Gertrude Stein.

702WI: Vinyl, cassette, CD or digital? Typewriter, notebook, tablet or computer?
JF: Vinyl and computer.

702WI: What is your most meaningful place?
JF: Marc Chagall’s America Windows are displayed in a dark, quiet room at the Art Institute of Chicago, and standing in front of them is a religious experience.

702WI: What’s your favorite bookstore?
JF: Politics & Prose in Washington, DC, and City Lit Books in Chicago.

702WI: Can you share a favorite line from a creative work (book/play/film/song)?
JF: “Earth’s crammed with heaven/and every common bush afire with god/ but only he who sees takes off his shoes” – from “Aurora Leigh”, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

702WI: What do you enjoy most about doing a reading or talking about your book?
JF: I could geek out forever about the feminist history of fairy tales and the sentience of trees. I am also eternally grateful for the friends I’ve made while touring.

702WI: What is something you know about or have heard about Madison or Wisconsin?
JF: Madison taught me the word isthmus!

Read more about Julia’s book, What Should Be Wild
Read more about Julia at her website