Michael Phillips on Fiction and E-Books

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.

Etched_2 MartinThe_road Veniss

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Comments (3)

I love Michael's outlook on life, but until I read this interview, I never thought about reading "dark" literature as a way to more appreciate the world in which we live. I, too, love fiction and fantasy, but never recognized or even considered the reasons why. Michael has once again given me something to think about. Keep challenging us, Michael!

Posted by: Peahen | Friday June 27, 2008 at 8:40 AM

Michael Phillips appears to be well read, intelligent and a curious fellow. His insight is extraordinary. Wish he would contribute online reviews on a regular basis as it might open more books to moore eyes.

Posted by: R Man | Wednesday June 25, 2008 at 1:43 PM

Great interview, our kids must learn from Mike that reading opens a door to knowledge. Also school systems that individuals with proper supports can conquer any challlenges.
I will be looking into the future and looking forward for Mike's first book.

Posted by: E Escallon | Wednesday June 25, 2008 at 1:23 PM

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