Born in South Africa, educated in England, Scotland, Japan, and the United States, Andrew McIntyre has lived a settled existence in San Francisco since 1999. He has a B.A. in Hispanic Studies, and master’s degrees in Comparative Literature and Economic History. He speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese. He is the author of a collection of 34 short stories, The Short, the Long, and the Tall, published by Merilang Press in 2010. An avid reader from an early age, he grew up reading Willard Price, Rosemary Sutcliff, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin (he owns the complete set in English), Graham Greene, George Orwell, and Sven Hassel, among others. His favorite authors also include Carlos Fuentes, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, William Burroughs, Niall Ferguson, John Keegan, A.N. Wilson, and Bruce Chatwin.
On your nightstand now: I am currently reading, The Battle of Arnhem. Next up will be The Life and Death of Kid Curry. I just read The Outlaw Trail, a history of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. I’ll probably start Trespassers on the Roof of the World, by Peter Hopkirk. I read his title, The Great Game.
Favorite book when you were a child: Anything in the Tintin Series. If I had to choose one title from the series, it would be Flight 714. I also liked Willard Price. Unfortunately, most of his work is out-of-print. Between the ages of 10-14 I read all Sven Hassel’s books, some of them four or five times; they were perfect for the privations of English boarding school, and we were obsessed with the Second World War; they are also mostly out-of-print.
Your top five authors: If I really have to choose, but not in this order, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Niall Ferguson, John Keegan, William Faulkner. Add Ernest Hemingway. My favorite author would have to be Conrad.
Book you’re an evangelist for: On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. It is unusual to encounter such a brilliant and concise summary of a period of history, in this case the 1930s, patterns of which are repeating themselves before our very eyes. The marvelous quality of this title is that it can be read quickly and absorbed by readers aged 11 and older. Essentially, Timothy Snyder shows that, if we act, even in the smallest way, we are not powerless against totalitarian forces; but we are also in very grave danger of losing the basic elements of freedom we take for granted.
Book that changed your life: Man’s Search for Meaning. This title really helped me out a few years ago when I was experiencing some difficulties. Essentially, it provides a paradigm for making suffering a positive experience, and finding dignity in awful times. I could add Ulysses to this category, for precisely the same reasons.
Favorite line from a book: “Call me Ishmael.” Also, “Never to be forgotten, that first long secret drink of golden fire, juice of those valleys and of that time, wine of wild orchards, of russet summer, of plump red apples, and Rosie’s burning cheeks,” from Cider with Rosie.
Five books you’ll never part with: Multiply this by a hundred and I could give you a more accurate answer (a visit to my apartment would provide visual evidence; I am told I am a hoarder of books). However, I could list Ulysses, Heart of Darkness, and The Sun Also Rises. One of my treasures is a first edition of Julian Cope, The Modern Antiquarian. I love this one too, Bank Wright, Surfing California.
Book you most want to read again for the first time: Cider with Rosie. A pal lent me this book in 1977, and I still read sections now and then; Laurie Lee’s beautiful memoir of England around the time of the First World War.
A book you think every American should (re-)read and discuss: On Tyranny, for the above reasons. Also 1984, for similar reasons; especially the role of tyranny in changing the English language. Fake news etc. I would also strongly recommend Colin Woodard, American Nations for its brilliant synthesis of North American cultural history, its relevance for the upcoming election, and its shattering predictions.