First Writes: Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures

First Writes: Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures

Photo: Sarah Shatz

The book follows a young actress making her way in 1930s Hollywood

Give us five words to describe Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures?
That’s easy: Laura Lamont’s life in pictures!

Name one author who should be more famous than they are now and why?
I would say Jennifer Egan, but she won the Pulitzer Prize last year, so maybe she’s as famous as they come. Kate Christensen is a really, really wonderful novelist who not enough people know about. Her novels are smart and wicked and full of deliciousness. Start with her book The Great Man, one of my very favourites.

What was the first book you read?
Ever? That’s an impossible question to answer. Some very early favourites were the George and Martha books by James Marshall.

What was the last book you read?
That was Megan Abbott’s novel Dare Me, about some psychotic high school cheerleaders. I gobbled it up. There is something truly sinister about that much hairspray.

Which book makes you cry?
Oh, everything makes me cry. I cry at books, movies, television commercials. I cried reading my friend Julie Klam’s new book, Friendkeeping. I cried reading Stuart Nadler’s Wise Men. I’ll probably cry reading these interview questions. I am a huge softie.

Which book makes you laugh?
I think Lorrie Moore is hilarious. Dry, quick, and sharp. Tom Perrotta is also very funny. I just read a book by Raymond Kennedy called Ride a Cockhorse, and I laughed out loud on the subway, which actually frightens people more in New York City than crying does. True fact.

Which dead author do you wish was still alive today?
Jane Austen. I would love to move in next door and pop over for tea and gossip. Can you arrange that, please?

What one thing would you change about the publishing world?
I suppose the shift to all things electronic. I can’t stand reading things that way. I like holding books in my hands, turning the pages, feeling the book’s weight. If I could change that, I would.

What plans do you have for book number two?
I’ve just sold book two here in America, a novel about a family on vacation in Mallorca. After Laura Lamont, I wanted to write something funny, something contemporary. Stay tuned! Should be out in 2014.

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is published by Picador on Thu 11 Oct.

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