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A Happy Counter to Gay Talese

Although not intended to be a rebuttal of Talese, in light of his total dismissal of women writers, this NY Times interview with your fave and mine, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is even better in contrast.

A few bits of the interview below:

What books are currently on your night stand?

“The Wayfinders,” by Wade Davis; “Between Riverside and Crazy,” by Stephen Adly Guirgis; and “Unabrow,” by Una LaMarche.


Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?

Too many to list, really, not that I won’t try: Junot Díaz, Liz Gilbert, Patrick Rothfuss, Wesley Morris, Michael Chabon, Martín Espada, Sarah Kay. . . . I mean, I better quit while I’m ahead.

What are the best books ever written about the theater? Do you have a personal favorite?

“Act One,” by Moss Hart. “Everything Was Possible,” by Ted Chapin. The “Rent” book. Patti LuPone’s autobiography — bring popcorn for that last one. Also, the Maya Angelou autobio that chronicles her touring with “Porgy & Bess” — I haven’t read it since high school, but her evocation of that experience has stayed with me.


The last book that made you furious?

A young adult series that I liked at the beginning but that went down in flames as it went on. I’d rather not catch any literary beefs by naming the author.


When you were an English teacher at Hunter College High School, what was your favorite book to teach?

“Things Fall Apart,” by Chinua Achebe. Mr. Achebe evokes his world so brilliantly that the last sentence is one of the all-time great gut punches in the history of literature. The kids walk out of the classroom as different people.


Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite antihero or villain?

My favorite fictional heroes are Oscar Wao, Ender Wiggin and Jane Eyre. I don’t believe in villains.


What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I read a lot. Louis Sachar, Madeleine L’Engle, Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary are the patron saints that come to mind.


If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?

We were assigned “Nilda,” by Nicholasa Mohr, when I was in sixth grade, and it rocked my world — maybe the first book I’d read about Puerto Ricans growing up in New York, like me. I still think of it whenever I pass through certain parts of East Harlem — I remember experiencing them through Nilda.


Whom would you want to write your life story?

I don’t know. I suppose I better do some things of note.

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