This article appears in the March 2011 issue of LouisvilleMagazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
Erin Keane is the author of two collections of poetry, Death-Defying Acts and The Gravity Soundtrack. A staff writer and theater critic for the Courier-Journal, she covers the Humana Festival of New American Plays each year in March and April, a challenge that requires her to “think on my feet a lot. You can’t have any preconceived notions about the plays, or rely on comparisons of past productions of the material, since these are world premieres.”
Book that has most guided your personal outlook or belief system:
"My mother used to read us poems when we were kids, and she had a thing for T.S. Eliot, so I’ve been a fan since before I could read myself. The Waste Land and Other Poems is a book I never tire of, and it has informed my own writing and understanding of literature more than any other volume on my shelf.”
Book you are reading now:
Just Kids, by Patti Smith. “Her stories of living the bohemian life in New York with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe remind me of my mom’s stories of her life with my dad in 1970s Manhattan. Smith’s images are so precise and evocative; each paragraph feels like a snapshot from someone else’s album.”
Book you plan to read next:
“All of this year’s Humana Festival play scripts will arrive on my desk in a couple of weeks, but for now I have Rob Sheffield’s Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, and Stacia Fleegal’s book of poems Anatomy of a Shape Shifter on deck."
Book you’d recommend to a friend to take along on vacation:
“I’ve been known to pack along light reading like St. Augustine’s Confessions to the beach, so I am not to be trusted. But I can recommend Richard Russo’s Straight Man for my academic friends, or Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City if you want to argue with me about the ending when you come home. I like to listen to audiobooks with plenty of action on road trips. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy works really well in that medium.”
Favorite book or author when you were (about) 21:
“I had a serious streak of Harry Crews love back in college, which started with a friend pressing his worn copy of The Knockout Artist into my hand. He’s one of those writers who can write about ugly things in a beautiful way. I also remember fondly two plays I was involved with at the time, John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation and Roger Hedden’s Bodies, Rest and Motion. I like those kinds of plays, talky and introspective, a little dreamy and a little strange.”
Favorite book from childhood/early adolescence:
“I would devour any books that took place in Europe during World War II or directly after. Something about ration books and refugees really appealed to me. Margot Benary-Isbert’s The Ark was my favorite of this genre.”
Great book you know you ought to have read but never have:
“Moby Dick. I never read it in school, so when am I going to get around to reading it now? Maybe on my next beach vacation.”