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If you could meet one famous author and sit down with him/her and discuss his/her work,...

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 20, 2012 at 4:59 AM via web

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If you could meet one famous author and sit down with him/her and discuss his/her work, who would it be?

I love the work of John Steinbeck.  I also love standard poodles.  It would be fun to compare notes about Charley and my standards.  Steinbeck wrote such great stories, novellas, and novels.  

His work also had influence during the time that he was writing.  His characters were inspirational and sometimes heart rending.  I loved all of them: The Pearl, East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, The Wayward Bus, The Winter of our Discontent and The Red Pony.  He also loved and wrote about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table which I also have always loved to read about and teach.  

His influence carried over into the movies as well with his screen writing particularly Viva Zapata that won an academy award.  What a genius!  I would want to study up on some of the stories that I had not read in a long time.  Then just ask him about George and Lenny or Tom Joad...you see where this is going.

Would it not be an exquisite time just to sit back and listen to your favorite writer talk?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:18 AM (Answer #2)

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This is a tough one, but I would have to say F. Scott Fitzgerald.  If he had written nothing but The Great Gatsby, that would be enough for me.  This and Huckleberry Finn will always be the two great American novels as far as I'm concerned.  Twain is someone I would love to talk to, but he is too far removed in time for me to feel that we would be able to be on the same page very quickly.  I would want to know about what image was in Fitzgerald's mind that began this novel for him, I would also want to hear about the beauty and pain of his life with Zelda, and because I adore the whole era, I would love to hear his thoughts on the Roaring Twenties. 

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 20, 2012 at 3:13 PM (Answer #3)

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Walt Whitman seems like a really interesting person. I'd like to talk with him about poetry and about life and ask him questions about how his views did or didn't change over time. 

Leaves of Grass is probably one of the greatest self-publishing success stories in American history. I wonder how Whitman felt about that aspect of his career, being self-made. How did things change for him professionally as his stature eventually grew? What, if he could narrow his artistic message to a single sentiment, what would he want people to take away from his work?

I'd also really like get to talk with James Baldwin. 

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 20, 2012 at 3:41 PM (Answer #4)

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It would have to be Hemingway. Growing up in Florida in the 1960s, it was impossible to ignore Hemingway's literary influence in the state, and he still commands a presence (especially in Key West). But it is Hemingway's larger-than-life persona that attracts me most, and it would be great to share a few stories over a bottle of wine in 1920s Paris or a few daiquiri's on his boat in Key West or Cuba.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 20, 2012 at 4:07 PM (Answer #5)

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I'm not a literature teacher but rather a history and social sciences teacher.  So I'm much more attracted to people whose work makes me think about history and society than to those who are investigating the human condition.  I also like pulp much more than good literature.  

If I could talk at length to an author I'd choose either Harry Turtledove or S. M. Stirling.  Both of these men write historical fiction and alternate histories.  They aren't great literature, but they do require me (or at least allow me) to think about various aspects of history (what would have happened if the North had lost the Civil War) or society (what happens if all authority is suddenly swept away and a new society has to be built).  They make me think in depth and detail about questions that are important to the areas in which I teach and so I would rather talk to them than to literary authors. 

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 20, 2012 at 6:02 PM (Answer #6)

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Hard choice, but I'd probably go with Benjamin Franklin. To call him a "famous author" might be something of a stretch, but he was certainly involved in a number of writing projects that could qualify him for inclusion as a writer of some note. And oh, the stories he would be able to tell about those projects!

As an American history buff, it would be fascinating to have the opportunity to hear stories and ask questions about the colonial era, the Revolutionary War, and the early years of forming a new government for this new country he helped to form. As a journalist, it would be interesting to hear how he went about finding information, writing his Poor Richard's Almanack, and publishing his newspapers. As an observer of human nature, I would be eager to ask for his reactions to some of the phenomena we observe in culture today.

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portd | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 20, 2012 at 8:44 PM (Answer #7)

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I'd go with John le Carre. Of any author I've read over the years, he's the one whose novels I read the most. I continually turn to his spy novels because, while in the spy/suspense/thriller genre, they are much more than that. His novels are not crash and bang, shoot 'em up works of little or no substance. His stories are character studies that deal with the strengths and weaknesses of its characters - protagonists and antagonists alike. The stories concern the innermost feelings and motives of the main characters. They are morality tales of the highest order - superimposed over the structure of the classic spy novel, a genre that John le Carre transformed when he came on the scene in the 60s.

I especially love the novels Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Russia House, Smiley's People, A Perfect Spy, and his most recent published novel Our Kind of Traitor.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 21, 2012 at 12:52 AM (Answer #8)

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Wow!  I would talk to Charles Dickens.  I would first want to ask him if he was happy.  I know he struggled with the idea of happiness most of this life.  Did he ever find it?  I would mainly want to talk about his ideas of social justice and how he used books to make people aware.  Dickens said:

Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts... (Our Mutual Friend)

I think he truly wanted to be the best person he could.  I think in many ways he succeeded.  His humor and courage never cease to amaze me, so if I could talk to any writer about his books, it would be Dickens.  My first question would be: WHO KILLED EDWIN DROOD!

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mwalter822 | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted December 21, 2012 at 2:47 AM (Answer #9)

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Two of my favorites have already been taken, John Steinbeck and Charles Dickens.
To avoid repetition, I think I'll pick Mark Twain. One thing I'd like to talk to him about is whether or not his cynicism has softened after more than a century of after-life.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 23, 2012 at 6:41 PM (Answer #10)

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Wow!  I would talk to Charles Dickens.  I would first want to ask him if he was happy.  I know he struggled with the idea of happiness most of this life.  Did he ever find it?  I would mainly want to talk about his ideas of social justice and how he used books to make people aware.  Dickens said:

Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts... (Our Mutual Friend)

I think he truly wanted to be the best person he could.  I think in many ways he succeeded.  His humor and courage never cease to amaze me, so if I could talk to any writer about his books, it would be Dickens.  My first question would be: WHO KILLED EDWIN DROOD!

I'm so pleased to see Dickens here!  Don't we want to know how in the world he named his characters to perfectly, too? 

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thisuserhasmadeabadusername | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted December 28, 2012 at 3:20 PM (Answer #11)

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@ #8 I think it was Jasper!

 

Anywho, I would pick Shakespeare, since he would make my English assignments so much easier by having him next to me.

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 8, 2013 at 5:57 PM (Answer #12)

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L.M.Montgomery, of Anne of Green Gables fame. She created such a variety of memorable characters - young and old, male and female, rich and poor. More often than not it's the minor characters that she brings to life so vividly. And although her descriptions can get a little florid, she also creates a great sense of place in her writings. (I particularly like the way she characterises houses!) Another aspect of her work that I enjoy - and which she doesn't get nearly enough recognition for, in my opinion - is her sense of irony. The way she describes the likes of Mrs Rachel Lynde in Anne of Green Gables, for instance, is as good as anything you'd find in Jane Austen. Probably better, if it isn't sacrilege to say so! I'd love to tell her how much I enjoy all these different aspects of her work.

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popan006 | Student, Grade 11 | Salutatorian

Posted January 19, 2013 at 11:06 AM (Answer #13)

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Shakespeare to ask him where his inspiration came from

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 30, 2013 at 2:14 PM (Answer #14)

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I have often thought that I would have loved to be able to talk to Ernest Hemingway because I would have liked to be able to ask him questions about a couple of his short stories and get the answers from the author himself rather than a lot of guesses from critics. I would first ask him about his short story "The Killers." How did the killers know that Ole Andreson was living in Summit? What did Ole do to make somebody want him killed? Why did they think he came to the diner every night at six when he only comes irregularly?

Then I would ask Hemingway about another short story, "Fifty Grand." How did the gamblers talk Jack into betting against himself? If they wanted to bribe him to take a dive, why didn't they just offer to pay him out of their own pockets?

And finally, I would ask Hemingway what in the world he meant when he wrote in The Green Hills of Africa that there is a third and fourth dimension that can be gotten in writing fiction.

I have my own ideas about all the questions I would ask, but I would like to see if any of them were confirmed by the author himself.

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user1450001 | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted February 3, 2013 at 7:02 AM (Answer #15)

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Tough ! But I would say Emily Bronte and Anne Frank. I dont have any questions to ask them but just would like to sit with them and share things naturaly comes between us.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 4, 2013 at 4:33 PM (Answer #16)

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I would love to meet Chaucer. He was not only a great writer, but he was also on the fringes of the royal family because his sister-in-law was the mistress (and eventually third wife) of John of Gaunt, whose son became Henry IV. I'd love to know what made Chaucer break from tradition and write in a totally new style by depicting not just nobility and heroes but common, ordinary folk as well. I think he would be a fascinating dinner companion.

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Shakespearian | Student | Honors

Posted February 8, 2013 at 9:47 AM (Answer #17)

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I would definitely meet Dickens first of all and discuss with him all his experiences and how he actually started his work , what were his main motives and how he managed all work in the extreme poverty , what Inspired him the most , His memorable moments in life which reflects in his books . Secondly I'd love to meet Rhonda Bryne , because I think she's my type when I first read her book THE MAGIC it touched my heart and Yes the magic indeed happened in my life when I was down It made me stand tall ..The book is just amazing . I'll ask her about the concept of how she came to the idea of writing ''THE MAGIC'' since Im really curious to know that.

Last , but not the least I soo wanna meet JK Rowling , as Im a pretty crazzy fan of Harry Potter . My whole childhood till now I've grown up along watching Harry Potter. It was an awesome journey uptill now , definitely I love the movie but it wasn't without the outstanding Book of hers . I'll ask her about the main theme of harry potter and what actually made her write it was it any experience or just fiction .

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nicoledesilva | Student, Grade 9 | Salutatorian

Posted February 15, 2013 at 6:56 AM (Answer #18)

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JK Rowling, no doubt.
And maybe Suzanne Collins too.

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