Withering Bites

“‘Lucky Jim’ Goes to the Internet”

About Michelle November 4, 2008

First Book You Loved: Jack’s New Power: Stories from a Caribbean Year by Jack Gantos. Before that, it was probably Ann M. Martin’s Baby-sitters’ Summer Vacation — books I read so often they fell apart (especially problematic with the former, as it was a library book). Both episodic; both with protagonists going through those hilariously awkward middle school phases I knew all too well. Good stuff.

Favorite Place to Read: Anywhere I shouldn’t be on stolen time.

Most Recent Favorite Book: Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings. I just remembered Courtney also listed a Christopher Moore book, but he’s great.

Favorite Poet: Tennyson! Yes, that’s right, Tennyson, and haters to the left. Please glance over “Ulysses”, The Idylls of the King, and Maud, then come on back and remind me of why he needs to be sneered at by so many po-mo-bohos.

Care to Share a Few Lines of Something? Nay, let us walk from fire unto fire, / From passionate pain to deadlier delight,- / I am too young to live without desire, / Too young art thou to waste this summer night / Asking those idle questions which of old / Man sought of seer and oracle, and no reply was told. (“Panthea”, Oscar Wilde)

Greatest Influences: In movies: the whole Mel Brooks canon. In television: every Garry Marshall sitcom from the 70s and 80s (mostly as cautionary tales of melodrama and cheese); 80s and 90s British comedies that taught me to be sharp like Blackadder and A Bit of Fry and Laurie; very recently, M*A*S*H, which is embarrassingly worked into just about everything I do. In books: In terms of writing fiction — not many, actually. In terms of new perspectives: the canons of Stephen Fry, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, and Salinger.

Three Reasons Everyone Else Should Love Stephen Fry: Wait, who doesn’t love Stephen Fry? Here’s one reason, the second reason, and the third:

Pretty! God I hated that word. Pretty boy, pretty boy… only a lumpen, half-witted heterosexual would think Matthew pretty. He was beautiful, like the feet of the Lord on the hills, he was beautiful. Like the river, like the snow that was falling now more thickly than ever, like nothing on earth, like everything on earth he was beautiful. (Moab is My Washpot)

Which is better: the movie, or the book? As I love to know everything about characters, I usually side with the book by default. Then there are moments when I switches sides completely: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Little Women [1994] are examples where I mostly loathe the source book. Bright Young Things from Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies (with Stephen Fry as screenwriter, director, and producer!) and Pride and Prejudice [2005] are adaptations I adore alongside their books. Basically: case-by-case basis.

Current Occupation: Adjunct for Temple University, a master’s student in English for said university, and a part-time clerk for a Philadelphia-based law firm. I will make it through this year if it kills me, etc.

What You’d Rather Be Doing: Writing fiction, drama, et al. However, I’ve come to enjoy eating, and that led me to graduate school.

Hell: Is it More Preferable to Philadelphia? Infinitely, yet both are preferable to Brooklyn.

Favorite Method to Get Courtney’s Goat: Saying vaguely insane things like, “I enjoy this cover of Wake Up much more when I can’t see how hideous the performers are”. (Honestly, David Bowie, is that you or your Madame Tussaud’s copy going out for a spin?)

Michelle is a pop culture junkie trapped in the body of an English graduate student, and a New Jerseyan trapped in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future. She enjoys irony, sarcasm, reading for fun, and too many other things forbidden by the academic cult of the bizarre.

She met her co-author Courtney at Sarah Lawrence College, where they were part of an utterly nerdy movement that spoke in quotes from The Simpsons and Homeric epithets. After picking up some Latin, Greek, and bits of English literature, she made her way to Philadelphia’s Temple University for their master’s in English program. For her, Withering Bites is an attempt to make sense of the literary theory that makes up 95% of academia at the advanced degree level — insanely enough, Michelle plans on doing that by applying said theory to literature.


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