Last week, in one of those surprising coincidences that seem to happen more often than they should, Michael Phillips emailed me. Phillips had read and enjoyed my novel Veniss Underground and was looking for an e-version of City of Saints & Madmen. Oddly enough, I'd just learned about Phillips because of a piece about him that appeared on Showtime's This American Life. Despite having a physical condition that has effectively paralyzed him, Phillips reads a lot of books, using e-books and audio books to overcome the problem of, for example, turning pages. Among other things, I wondered what someone's perspective on e-books would be if they had to use them to enjoy good fiction. Phillips was kind enough to agree to an interview via email to talk about books, fiction, and his favorite authors. (BTW--although an e-book of City of Saints exists, it requires Windows XP to view it, so my editor at Bantam is working on getting Phillips a PDF instead.)
Amazon.com: Can you give me an idea of your general reading tastes? Do you read fiction and nonfiction? What kinds, etc?
Michael Phillips: I really prefer fiction. Stark reality is everywhere, when I read I like to go somewhere else, somewhere far away. I mostly like darker fiction, I don't read to go somewhere "better" than the world around us. If anything, I read to see something far worse. I love fabulism, magic realism, darker works of fantasy, and I read classics because so much modem fiction alludes to classics.