So if I had a time traveling machine, here is a list of authors I’d like to hear read and talk about their books. Once again, there is no particular order to this list, and keep in mind that I am a Victorian at heart.
- Charles Dickens. Dickens, of course, had a reputation of being an excellent speaker and performed before crowds. I think it would have been great fun to hear him read the discussion between Scrooge and Marley’s ghost: “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
- Mark Twain. Samuel Clemens is also something of a no-brainer, since like Dickens, he was known as an entertaining speaker, although he confessed that, before his first speaking engagement, he contemplated killing himself, running away, and pretending to be sick. (All reasonable alternatives to speaking in public.) Apparently, he never did get over his dislike of the lecture circuit, but he did like the money! My vote for a reading: Tom Sawyer’s ‘funeral.’
- Lord Byron and Percy Shelley. “The Bad Boys’ Summer Tour.” Need I say more?
- Margaret Oliphant. A too-little-read Victorian writer, Oliphant wrote a very funny novel, Miss Marjoribanks as well as some ghost stories that have stood the test of time. She was in the not-unusual position of having to write to support her family after the death of her husband. Her output was uneven, but she deserves to be known.
- Jane Austen. I’m not what sort of stage presence Austen would have, but still, it would be fun to ask her (remember, I’m time travelling here) about her view on zombies.