Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dana Jennings answers our Top Five

Dana Jennings is an author and assistant editor of the Arts & Leisure section of the New York Times, where he has most recently been blogging about his experience with prostate cancer. His new book, What a Difference a Dog Makes: Big Lessons on Life, Love, and Healing from a Small Pooch tells about the healing power of living with and loving his dog, Bijou. Originally from New Hampshire, Dana will be reading at Water Street Bookstore on Thursday, November 18th at 7pm.

1. What's on your nightstand right now?

I tend to listen to music in bed -- with my two golden retrievers, Moxie & Harry -- and i've been listening to a Starbucks collection called "Heading West: Songs for the Open Road." The artists include Patty Griffin, the Shins, Calexico, Old Crow Medicine Show, and other bands like that. This morning on the bus to work, I was re-reading a wonderful collection of poetry by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser called "Braided Creek." It's a genuine conversation in empigrammatic poems.

2. How do you write?

I write in the morning. When I'm really focused on a book, I work at the dining-room table. If I'm just dreaming & doodling, I write at my local Starbucks. I write my first drafts in longhand, using Pilot's Precise V5 Extra Fine pen, and a range of Moleskine notebooks. I'm addicted to beautiful papers and leathers. After I write, I head off to my job at The New York Times, where I'm the asst. editor of the Sunday Arts & Leisure section. I also write for the paper.

3. Name the first time or moment you realized you were a writer.

It was in third grade. A fourth grader named Cindy Clark, who now lives in East Kingston, showed my teacher, Mrs. Consentino, a story she had written. I watched this play out, and said to myself, 'I can write a story.' I went home that afternoon and started my "first novel": The Cannon Twins in the Robbery Mystery.

4. What are you working on now?
I'm doodling on a book called "Redneck Jew: My (Ahem) Spiritual Journey." It's about how a working-class hick -- me -- improbably converted to Judaism in his late 40s. And, yes, there will be Redneck Jew jokes in the book.

5. Favorite recent find?

Two music videos that I absolutely love that I constantly watch over & over on YouTube: "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show [reminds me of the Kingston carnival when I was a kid] and "White Winter Hymnal" by Fleet Foxes. Can't get that song out of my head.

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