Robert Wallace is the author of the novel “A Hold on Time,” as well as numerous short stories and essays. He retired after a 35-year career as a social worker and lives in Durham.
Recommended read: “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë. My daughter is a graduate student at UNC-Greensboro, currently taking a Victorian Literature course. We have a long-standing history of reading books together, so I decided to read the books her class was reading. This story contains many themes, but at its heart, it is a love story. I also read the recent biography “Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart” by Claire Harman. I found the story of Charlotte Brontë, and her equally-talented sisters, and the entire Brontë family, quite tragic but fascinating.
Currently reading: “In Memoriam” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I’m also reading the collected stories of Clarice Lispector, a Ukranian-born writer who lived most of her life in Brazil. She deserves to be much better known.
What is your favorite reading memory? Sitting in the basement of my grandparents’ house as a 15-year-old boy, reading “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck. The basement had a decrepit-looking chair in front of the furnace. I used to sit in the chair with my feet on the furnace because the basement was cold and heat coming from the furnace warmed my feet. I had just lost both my parents, and I found the tragic story of the Trask family mesmerizing and oddly comforting. I own 33 books by or about John Steinbeck, which includes many books of literary criticism.
What is your favorite book that nobody’s heard of? Samuel Beckett’s trilogy of “Molloy,” “Malone Dies” and “The Unnamable” is an immensely challenging read. Samuel Beckett tried to literally obliterate what, up to that point, had been recognized as the usual novelistic forms. In general, I’m drawn to this kind of philosophical fiction: the writings of Kafka, Sartre, Camus and Beckett. The Beckett Trilogy is a book I can’t live without.
Penguin Classics, 624 pages